CARETAKER Prime Minister Rick Hou has instructed the Director of Mines to undertake a full review of the processes involved in the assessment and award of the Mining Lease to APID.
Hou’s announcement came in the wake of the oil spill disaster on Rennell after a bulk carrier miner’s Bintan chartered to load its bauxites ran aground on the reefs at Kangava Bay on February 5.
“I am concerned that adequate checks and balances may not have been complied with in the process of granting the mining lease to the primary company – APID in January 2014,” Hou said.
The Solomon Star also understands that APID is also holder of the Development Consent that underpinned the granting of the licence by the Minerals and Mining Board.
“I am informed that the mining lease may have been granted to APID without proper procedures being followed, and that the areas approved far exceed that provided under the Act.
“This concern is validated by the fact that APID contracted Bintan Mining Solomon Islands to conduct the mining operations in Rennell,” he added.
Hou told the media that he was also informed of other irregularities in relation to consultation and vetting requirements.
He further stated that a further concern is that APID does not have any capability and/or expertise in mining – raising the question why the development consent and the mining lease was granted to it.
“I have also instructed the Director of Environment to conduct a similar assessment on how or why such an accident and its impact on the environment could not have been foreseen.”
Hou further instructed the Attorney General and both Directors to advice on the legality or otherwise issuing the development consent and the mining lease to a company with no expertise in mining – which then on-ward contract another company to conduct the actual mining operation.
“It is my position that should any irregularities and or illegal act, or if the normal due process was not adhered to in the award of the development consent and / or the mining lease then this would constitute a serious breach in our process.
“It must then be dealt with accordingly including the revocation of the development consent and the mining lease,” Hou said.
By ANDREW FANASIA