Bauxite saga raises many questions - Solomon Star News

Bauxite saga raises many questions

04 June 2015

UNDER the Mining Act, an operator is only allowed to hold three tenements at a time.

Anything other than that is illegal.

So why did PT Mega Bintang Borneo of Indonesia reportedly owned 11 tenements under different names but with the same directors and yet continued to be allowed to operate in the country?

Surely, something is not right here. Or someone is not doing his job.

What is the Government, or in his case the Ministry of Mines and its Mineral Board, doing about this?

Are they still going to give another permit to Bintang to extract more bauxites from Rennell island?

What is so special about Bintang?

We already knew their prospecting licence had been cancelled late last year.

This means they should pack up their bag and leave Rennell at once. They did not.

Instead, they continued to illegally extract bauxites on Rennell and stockpile them at their base.

We also knew the former minister for mines Samson Maneka rejected an appeal Bintang made for the reinstatement of their prospecting licence.

In their greed and quest to export their s illegally harvested bauxites, Bintang forged an export permit in an attempt to deceive Customs.

They were caught in the process and their shameful act was publicly exposed in the media.

Then the DCC Government took matters in its own hands.

It shifted Mr Maneka away from the Ministry of Mines and placed him in the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation, and Peace.

David Day Pacha was made to replace Mr Maneka.

Then it sacked the ministry’s permanent secretary and director of mines.

A few days later, Cabinet ordered Customs to grant Bintang a licence to export its illegally extracted stockpile of bauxites from Rennell.

Documents the Solomon Star obtained claimed certain cabinet ministers are sitting comfortably in the pockets of this little-known Indonesian mining firm.

And they are the ones pushing for an export licence to be granted to Bintang.

For cabinet ministers to associate and support a foreign company that all along was undermining our mining laws was beyond any decent mind.

Solomon Islanders expect their political leaders to stand up and protect the resources of this nation from unscrupulous investors.

It leaves much to be desired when our very leaders are seen to be working in union with so-called foreign investors to break our laws.

Where is this country heading? How long are we going to continue opening our doors and entertaining so-called investors who showed not respect to our laws?

The Sogavare government owes Solomon Islanders an explanation why it continues to entertain Bintang when it’s already public knowledge that this is a company hell-bent on breaking our laws.

The government promised to bring change and tackle corruption head-on.

Where’s that change? And where’s the action to back its words?

The bauxite mining saga gave a different and negative picture of this government.

Solomon Islanders expect foreigners breaking our laws to be shown the exit door and told in no uncertain terms to pack up and leave.