FORUM Solomon Islands International (FSII) has called on St Barbara, owners of Gold Ridge Mining Limited (GRML), to tell the nation if they are still interested in running the mine in central Guadalcanal.
The call came after the Solomon Star published a private view article entitle “GRML was wrong all along”.
FSII said the contents of the article were “disturbing”.
“The article contains some disturbing exposures,” FSII said in a statement.
The author alleged that the management of St. Barbara came into the country with an ill-conceived concept of how to operate in a developing nation.
It further claimed that the St. Barbara management’s team lacked ability and understanding with regards to developing countries resulting in mismanaging their shareholders’ money, the entire mining process, their shareholders including local employees and those in the local community.
The author also claimed that a report from Earnest Young and Price Water House show the Australian Mining model is the worst run and most expensive in the world.
FSII chief executive officer Benjamin Afuga said these allegations are very serious and if true it is now the right time for St. Barbara to declare to all stakeholders and the nation its current position.
“Time is up for St. Barbara to declare their position. All stakeholders have been waiting and anticipating your confirmation,” Mr Afuga said.
He added that the way things have been happening does not portray a steady or healthy progress; therefore it is imperative that St. Barbara declare its position.
“This is for the good of both your shareholders and all stakeholders”, he said.
Mr Afuga also hit back at media reports that looting and thieving is happening up at the mine site.
He said the fact of the matter is that some company bosses are scheming this.
“I have been reliably informed that company executives have instructed employees to take furniture and other office equipment.
“This has impelled locals to rush to the mine site after seeing trucks full of equipment passing their areas,” Mr Afuga said.
He said this matter warrants an investigation by the company and if found to be against company policies then these managers must face the full brunt of the company regulations.
At the same time, he said the company must come out clear on admittance by some employees that their bosses authorised them to remove equipment.
“It is wrong to use landowners as a scapegoat in this scheming scenario,” he said.
In the meantime, some landowners from the Gold Ridge communities alleged that certain police officers tasked to secure mine properties also removed some properties.
“Similarly I call on the Office of the Police Commissioner and Police Operations to investigate allegations of unlawful removal of GRML properties by police officers,” Mr Afuga said.
Various calls have been made by the chairman of the Gold Ridge Landowners Council Dick Douglas, calling on his people to respect and stay away from company properties.
“Our people would have done looting or thefts during the absence of the company after the April floods but they have demonstrated total respect and I commend them for this.
“Any landowner found to be involved in any unlawful act must be arrested by RSIPF and dealt with by the law, but we disassociate ourselves from any unlawful action” Mr Douglas said.
“We are peace loving people and always have great respect for the company assets because they are state-owned,” he added.
“The decision by St. Barbara to move properties from the mine site has nothing to do with us and we have no right to stop any removal of company machines, whether hired or owned,” he said.
Mr Afuga also called on the government to quickly meet with St. Barbara, the Guadalcanal province and the three landowning associations to quicklyfind a way forward.
“Do not point finger at each other but sit on a round table and talk.This situation urgently warrants a round table discussion to talk over the situation and find an amicable solution,” MrAfuga said.
“Pointing finger at each other is no longer favourable in this situation. We must be honest with each other.
“We must admit our shortcoming, incompetencies, and honestly our positions.
“The recent claims that what has been transpiring at the mine site was a schemeto simply allow St. Barbara to make claims under their relevant insurances and save face with their shareholders, at the cost of Solomon Islands is really disturbing.
“This is first-degree scheming and must be properly investigated.
“But the onus is now on the government and St. Barbara, we are only trying to point out our opinion and provide useful options,” Mr Afuga said.
Comments are being sought from St. Barbara office in Melbourne, Australia.