Their joy was uncontained. It was written all over their faces. It was evident in the chiefly welcome they gave Axiom KB Chief Executive Officer Ryan Mount and his delegation from Honiara.
It was heard in their melodious singing in church and expressed in the island feasting and cultural dancing that followed the Axiom KB thanksgiving service in Sepi Village in the Bugotu region of Isabel Province.
Yes, Axiom KB’s victory over Sumitomo Mining Metals in the legal proceedings instituted by the latter, challenging the validity of the prospecting licence of the joint venture company between Axiom Mining and the Kolosori and Bungusule tribes of the Bugotu district, was greeted with jubilation.
The ecumenical event held last Thursday, a day after the High Court of Solomon Islands handed down its ruling on the longest running trial in the country’s history was a testimony of the overwhelming strong community support for Axiom KB and the locals’ anticipation to see the company’s full operation off the ground.
Mr Mount, who is devout Catholic, said Axiom KB acknowledges the existence of God and wanted to thank Him for keeping all the partners in the joint venture company intact throughout the three and half years of challenges and anxiety.
“I am pleased to say today that we won the court case—we won both the land rights and the mining rights over the nickel tenement area, which is a very important step forward for the development of Bugotu.
“I want to congratulate you the landowning trustees and chiefs for bearing with us through this difficult and time consuming process.”
“Axiom wants to work together with the landowners to develop the mine,” he said at thanksgiving service.
Axiom’s desire to involve landowners in its operation in Isabel Province is well reflected in its award of 20 percent share in their joint venture company with the Kolosori and Bungusule tribes to these local partners.
In his liturgy sermon, Father Lot Bako, who is also a trustee in the Axiom KB, likened the challenges brought about by the legal battle by Sumitomo Mining to that faced by Jesus on the road to Calvary.
Father Bako said the secret of Jesus’s strength on that challenging journey to his crucifixion was the session of prayer he had on Mount Transfiguration and on that note challenged the partners in Axiom KB to pray if they were to overcome any challenge.
At cultural celebration and feasting that followed the church service, chiefs from the Bugotu region expressed delight over Axiom KB’s legal victory and anticipation to see the company commence full operation.
In Honiara a similar thanksgiving service was held at the All Saints Chapel last Saturday for Honiara-based Kolosori and Bungusule trustees and tribesmen and women.
In his liturgy sermon, the All Saints Rector Father Philip Rongotha spoke from the Book of about God’s creation of the universe and mandate of humans as its caretakers as stated in the Book of Genesis Chapter 1.
“As caretakers of the universe, God gave us humans the right over everything in it including the land to sustain our livelihood but on the other hand priority must be given to food and water,” he stressed.
Father Rongotha said nowadays land is threatened by population growth and economic development and the government and middlemen tend to benefit more from the exploitation of the land.
He urged the Kolosori and Bungusule tribes to learn from the mistakes of other people who benefited less for the exploitation of the land under their custody.
At a refreshment meal after the thanksgiving service, Axiom CEO Mr Ryan Mount expressed acknowledgement over the sermon by Father Rongotha and added that Axiom KB will ensure that it is a model company for other companies to follow.
Mr Mount said Axiom KB will work to ensure that the people of Kolosori and Bungusule, Isabel Province and Solomon Islands benefit from its nickel operation.