MINING companies are tussling to get their hands on the lucrative mineral resources of the country despite oppositions indigenous landowners.
The opposition to mining is nowhere more marked than in the Choiseul Province.
Recently, the Forum Against Mining on Choiseul (FAMOC) has come out strongly in the media against mining in the province.
On Monday 14th September, Radio Australia reported via its Pacific Beat Program that an Australian Mining company is setting its eyes on mineral sector in the country.
Pacific Beat (PB) revealed that the Australian miner, Malachite Resources is trying to enter Solomon Islands’ mineral sector through the acquisition of two companies to mine nickel on Santa Isabel.
It is reported that the Solomon Islands’ government is looking at increasing mining activities in the country to boost GDP growth.
It was understood that the mining sector was responsible for just 0.5 per cent of GDP last year compared to 5 per cent eight years ago.
“A government oversight committee has been set up to help companies’ fast track their mining applications to the Mines and Minerals board,” reported Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program.
“Three companies have been identified to go through the process and if successful, will lead to a new bauxite mine in Rennell and Bellona Province and nickel mines in Isabel and Choiseul provinces.”
The revelation has dampened spirits of government intervention on the matter of mining in Choiseul, but a hope in humanity continues to linger.
Speaking to this paper on the matter Co-founder and co-director of Ecological Solutions Solomon Islands (ESSI) Mr. David Boseto conveyed his position in understanding FAMOC’s public vocal display against mining in Choiseul province.
“I believe they (FAMOC) see the value and the role of their environment.
“The environment contributes to their wellbeing and way of life, they have fresh air to breath, clean water to drink, wash, cook and bath, their environment is their source of local food, building materials and medicine,” he said.
Boseto says it is his understanding that FAMOC members, as well as other non-affiliated citizens do not want mining to destroy their way of life.
He further says that they are fully aware of the negative impacts of mining and hence do not want such environmental disasters to take place on Choiseul.”
“The proposed mining activity will certainly destroy their cultural and traditional values as mining will have no respect for their traditional or taboo sites as their primary interest and focus will be to harvest their minerals.”
“We can see that mining will destroy people’s lives by destroying our environment and our cultural and traditional values.”
The deal with Malachite Resources is valued at around $AUD4 million, but is very much depends on the Solomon Islands Government whether or not the proposed mining lease is approved.
And when contacted by Pacific Beat, Environmentalist and landowner David Boseto said he’s worried that the government is using the new process to push ahead in places like Choiseul Province.
“That is the concern, when you do that [fast track] you don’t do due diligence you do shortcuts,” he said.
By TERENCE ZIRU
Gizo News Bureau