Two mining firms competing for the rich bauxite deposits on Rennell island should have their leases revoked and given a new chance to reapply, a new report suggests.
The report, produced by the Attorney General’s chamber, was forwarded to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines.
It came months after the ministry awarded a mining lease to Pacific Investment Development (APID), while cancelling Bingtang Borneo Ltd’s prospecting licence.
The Attorney General’s report stated that there was no recommendation or advice from the Mines and Minerals board to the minister to grant APID its mining lease.
It added there were also other irregularities in APID’s application.
“The proper procedure would be for the board to deliberate on the application and make recommendations to the minister,” the report said.
“The minister having received the recommendation would proceed to decide accordingly.
“Any granting of the mining lease in the absence of a recommendation of the Board is contravention of the Mines Act.”
APID was granted its lease on 5th of September 2014.
Bintang Borneo, on the other hand, was awarded its mining lease on 9th September 2014, but it was later cancelled.
According to the report, the letter granting mining lease to APID dated 5th September 2014 by the minister is erroneous in fact and law for the following reasons:
- Board resolution of 12th June 2014 does make any approvals for the issuance of a mining lease to APID.
- Board resolution of 26th June 2014 clearly states that the Board has agreed not to accept the application for mining lease made by Asia Pacific Investment Development Limited.
- By Board resolution of 2nd September 2014, the board resolved to uphold its decision on the 12th June 2014 not to grant a mining lease to APID until all 3 requirements have been fulfilled. With regards to APID’s machines on site, the team from the ministry of commerce will carry out further assessment before any further deliberations can be made and
- The prerequisite of an advice of the board under sections 6 and 11 of the Mines Act have not been duly complied with and as such the Minister acted outside the ambits of his powers in issuing this letter.
As such, the report said no mining lease should be issued to APID until the Board recommends it to the minister.
“Any granting of a mining lease without recommendation of the Board is contravention of the Mines Act.
“Thus APID’s mining lease should be cancelled and an opportunity be given to Bingtang to reapply for a prospecting licence.”
The report noted that the Mines and Minerals board met on 16th September 2014 discussing Bintang Borneo’s case and was “implausible”; advice was given to the Minister.
This includes some other irregularities on procedures to acquiring prospecting licence.
The report recommended that the Mines and Minerals Board to convene again and consider the following resolutions and to advise the minister accordingly:
- That the only prospecting licence granted to APID is referred to as PL 04/08 which was issued in 5th December 2008 and covers tenement A.
- That there is no prospecting licence PL 05/08
- That PL 04/08 is for an area of 560km2 and includes the following area Hogavea and Kaagua in West Rennell.
- That PL 04/08 should have been renewed in 2011 however the Board extended the license to expire in December 2012 and that the Board did not have the power to extend the license. As such PL 04/08 expired on 4th December 2011.
- That PL 04/08 legally ceased to have any legal effect on 4th December 2011.
- In any event, the renewal of APID’s prospecting License in December 2012 could have only been for an area of 280km2.
- Pursuant to section 71 of the Mines Act, that the Mining Lease granted to APID be cancelled. A notice to show cause should be issued first before any decision to cancel is made by the minister.
- That the mining lease issued to Bintang Borneo be cancelled on the ground that the minister acted without the advice of the board in granting the mining lease. As such, issuance of the mining lease contravened the Mines Act.
- Pursuant to section 71 of the Mines Act, that a notice to show cause must first be issued to Bintang, why its license should be cancelled on the ground that the Mining Lease was issued to Bintang by the Minister in contravention of the Mines Act.
- That an opportunity must be given to both APID and Bintang to resubmit their applications for prospecting licence and mining lease respectively.
By BRADFORD THEONOMI