The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) yesterday issued an apology as it retracted a press statement regarding the Court of Appeal decision between Axiom KB Ltd and Sumitomo Metal Mining (SMM) Ltd.
A statement from the PMO said the Government Communication Unit on the sole advise of the Special Secretary to the Prime Minister issued a press statement on 21st March 2016 titled ‘GOVERNMENT WELCOMES COURT OF APPEAL DECISION ON MAJOR MINING BATTLE.’
“This press statement was later deemed to be erroneous because it misrepresented the Prime Minister and the entire Solomon Islands Government on this case and furthermore, did not reflect the Appeal Court ruling,” the PMO press statement said.
In retracting the press statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said:
“Firstly, the press statement carried direct quotes by the Prime Minister himself and this is misleading because the Prime Minister never expressed the government’s position on the issue.
“While the GCC Government welcomes any decision on the outcome of the Court of Appeal ruling, such a position is solely be for the reason that the long-running battle has now ended, which would pave way for the resumption of processes to have the Isabel nickel projects on track again.
“To that end, the Government is mindful of the importance of investor- confidence and will strive to ensure there is a level playing field for all investors in all industries including mining.
“Secondly, the press statement might have wrongly implied Government endorsement of one company over the other based on the Court ruling and that one company is more reputable than the other which is not the case.
“The Office of the Prime Minister therefore, would like to apologise if the press statement is interpreted in this manner by the management, Board of Directors and shareholders of Axiom KB Limited, and expressly withdraws it. It also apologises if ever the implication of the press release is deemed to mean that Axiom Mining Limited and Axiom KB Limited are not reputable mining companies.
“The Government is ever mindful of the implications of the Court ruling that ensures that both companies applications for mining of nickel in the Isabel tenements are again returned to the drawing board, thereby offering a level-playing field for all parties involved to start all over again.
“Thirdly, the Office of the Prime Minister understands that the said press statement is being carried out of context by the international media that may potentially undermine the reputation of one company over the other outside of Solomon Islands.
“The Office of the Prime Minister wants to assure both companies that the Government is mindful of the high international regard for either companies in their countries of origin of Australia and Japan.
“The Office of the Prime Minister therefore would like apologise to the parties concerned of any inconvenience, financial strain or ill-feeling that the erroneous press release may have caused to them and their stakeholders.
“The DCC Government remains steadfast in its commitment to develop the National Mineral Policy, to review and amend the Mines and Minerals Act and review the mineral exploration and mining operations is Solomon Islands.”