MINING Renbel’s multi-million dollar bauxite deposit in West Rennell appears destined to the courts as angry landowners seek a High Court injunction to stop Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID) from doing any work on their land.
At the same time the authenticity of a letter granting the mining lease to APID is under the microscope.
The letter was purportedly signed by the Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, Moses Gharu, who could not recall having signed such a letter.
The chairman of the West Rennell Resources Lands Owners Association Trust Board (Incorporated), Jonathan Tohuika, confirmed he has instructed his lawyer to apply for a High Court injunction to stop APID from carrying out any work on their land.
“I saw my lawyer this week and I am awaiting feedback from him,” he said.
In a letter to the Minerals Board, Mr Tohuika warned of “serious legal consequences and social chaos or unrest for the country” should the company, APID start work on the project.
“I hope you can recognise your Ministry has committed a serious mistake which might lead to a serious legal consequences and social chaos or unrest for the country,” the letter dated 9th September said.
“(I) hope your Ministry will be able to rectify your mistakes on this illegal mining lease and cancel their (APID’s) Prospecting Licence as soon as possible,” the two-page letter said.
\Meanwhile Minister Gharu said he could not clearly recall signing a letter which granted APID its licence. The letter was dated 5th September 2014.
Mr Gharu was shown a copy of the letter.
“I did sign some documents but I am not sure this is one of them,” he said.
The letter was dated 05th September 2014, the day MrGharu arrived back in the country after a medical visit to Australia.
The same letter with the Minister’s alleged signature appeared in the Island Sun newspaper as a Paid Notice on the same day.
According to the letter, APID’s Mining Lease is valid for 25 years “and may be renewed (subject to conditions) for a (further) 10-year period and unlimited number of times.”
“The lease may also be transferred, subject to written approval from the Mineral’s Board,” the letter said.
By ALFRED SASAKO