Tag Archives: Asia Pacific Development Limited

Mining destroying land and wrecking locals’ health in Solomon Islands

The stricken Solomon Trader

Michael Morrah | Newshub | 1 April 2019

Residents living near a UN world heritage site in the Solomon Islands say mining is destroying their island’s environment and heritage, but they feel powerless to prevent it.

Oil from a grounded mining ship has spoiled beaches and reefs on Rennell Island, and some residents say their children have suffered fevers and skin irritations.

Resolve Salvage Master Stewart Miller says the daily journey by salvage experts to the stricken Solomon Trader includes “people from the United States, UK, Spain and Portugal” all helping to vacuum up oil that’s still on the vessel.

They’re also training locals to help them clean up the blackened beaches.

It’s easy to see why the damage to this marine environment will be so significant.

Old sheets of plastic covered in thick, tacky heavy fuel oil from the Solomon Trader, show how the oil attaches to the reef below.

At low tide the evidence of that is clear, rocks and coral smothered by oil.

But not all impacts are quite so noticeable; rainwater tanks, even those high on the cliffs above the vessel, are not safe.

This causes some of the most vulnerable, like Abatai resident Ileen Tonga’s children becoming ill with “fever, red eye, diarrhoea and headache.”

Further up the road from the grounding is Lake Tegano, where families bathe and catch fish, and children play.

It’s a world heritage site and UNESCO says oil hasn’t reached here, but it’s yet to send anyone to do actual testing.

Chinese firm Bintan Mining got approval to mine the area in 2014.

Local teacher Sina Zeal says the firm offered landowners 20,000 Solomon Island Dollars, or $3,600 New Zealand dollars to dig up their family gardens, which many accepted and now regret.

“They are taking out our soil, land, our heritage, everything. That $20,000 (Solomon Island dollars) is nothing compared to the soil they take.”

She says attempts at taking legal action have failed.

“We’re fighting against the government. They won’t do anything.”

Incredibly, amid the current crisis, the Government has given Bintan two more prospecting licences on different islands.

The Minister in charge refused to talk about it saying he was busy with the elections.

The Government’s said it’s getting “virtually no economic return from the mining, describing that as “immoral and unacceptable”, but it’s done nothing yet to halt operations.

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Solomon Islands PM hails mining company

PM Sogavare’s letter to the controversial Bintan Mining (Solomon Islands) Limited.

His office defends ‘acknowledgement’ letter

Teddy Kafo | Solomon Star | 13 October 2017

PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare appears to have an “intimate relationship” with the controversial Bintan Mining (Solomon Islands) Limited, an overseas miner extracting bauxite deposits on Rennell island, Renbel Province.

This intimate relationship is further evidenced by a recently leaked letter, which the Prime Minister wrote to the general manager of the company.

In the letter dated 8th May 2017, the Prime Minister stated the following:

“I have been watching with keen interest the challenges that your mining operation had to go through in the formative period of your operations and might I add continue to face in Rennell.
“I can only admire the cool and understanding manner in which you conducted yourself in dealing with these challenges within the bounds of our laws.
“You have demonstrated good corporate citizenship in this matter.
“For this I thank you very much and would encourage you to keep up this responsible attitude which is worthy of emulation by other mining operations in the country.
“I must also commend your commitment to implement an extensive community service engagement, fully acknowledging your social responsibility to the indigenous landowning group and provision of employment to Solomon Islanders.
“This is admirable given the high risks with mining operations which require a careful balance between social responsibility and profit-making.
“You have managed this very well, which is a credit to the effective management and administration of the company.
“I believe your company has great future in Solomon Islands in the development of the mineral sector, judging from the noble aims and objectives of the company which augers well with the development objectives of the Solomon Islands Government in the mining industry.
“On behalf of the government and people of Solomon Islands, I commend the good work you are doing in this country and assure you of our closer working relationship with you.”

In a statement issued last night, the Office of the Prime Minister said it is a usual practice by the Prime Minister to issue a letter of acknowledgment to investors within the country upon receiving positive feedback from various stakeholders including landowners.

This leaked letter followed the meeting between the former Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification David Dei Pacha and the Chairman of the Asia Pacific Investment Limited (APID) Ray Set Fah Chu in the carpark of the Heritage Park Hotel at 10:40pm on 21st April this year.

Bintan is contracted by APID to mine bauxite on Rennell.

Mr Pacha, who is now the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, was removed for what the Prime Minister described as “under-performance” after a video footage of the secret meeting was leaked.

The video footage attracted bitter sentiments for the removal of the minister.

Two months earlier (January 2017), leaked text messages between Prime Minister Sogavare and an official of Bintan were exposed by the Solomon Star.

The text messages went viral on social media..

The texts dated 15th and 16th November 2016 show the Prime Minister reassuring a Bintan official that cabinet was preparing to remove all tax exports on bauxite and back-dating it.

The reassurance was made in response to a first text by the Bintan official who asked if there was any good news from cabinet on the matter.

The Prime Minister added that:

“The minister (of Finance and Treasury) and all of us (Caucus) are still tied up in dealing with the current political situation coursed (caused) by the President of the UDP and had Caucus whole day.

“We are still solid as a group. I want to assure you that the matter will definitely come to cabinet this week.”

The response from the Bintan official was swift.

“Dear Prime Minister. Thank you for your information. I hope the current political situation can be solved by your leadership. Good luck and God bless.”

Four weeks later on the 13th of December 2016, the Minister of Finance and Treasury issued a gazette validating duty exemption for bauxite exports and this was backdated to 1st August 2016.

Last night, the Prime Minister’s Office replied to concerns about the letter.

It said:

  1. It is a usual practice by the Prime Minister to issue a letter of acknowledgment to investors within the country upon receiving positive feedback from various stakeholders including landowners.
  2. The intention of the letter was to give motivation and boost confidence of investors who are providing services in the country and in the case of Bintan Mining, for their commitment demonstrated so by investing into the local community and towards improving the minimum standard of mining operations.An example of this is the 6.5% royalty payment made by Bintan Ltd to resource owners and both the national and provincial governments, which is more than double the legislated requirement of 3%.
  3. The letter has no intention to provide any depictions of preferential treatment towards certain investor(s) in this case Bintan Mining (SI) Limited.
  4. The letter carries the intention to encourage investors to ensure they comply to the law of the country.
  5. It is also the intention of the letter to encourage engagement between the investor and the people in community service obligations.
  6. Bintan Mining (SI) Limited operates under a valid mining lease held by APID.
  7. Further such a letter holds the company accountable for their actions should they fail to meet the required standard and does not indemnify the company from being held liable for non-compliance but rather raises the bar to ensure requirements are met in accordance with the acknowledgement by the Prime Minister.

“Important also to note that this is not the first time a Prime Minister has written to acknowledge the efforts of genuine Investors and moving forward neither will it be the last, as the DCCG aims to encourage genuine and legitimate investments within the country to support the development of our national economy.”

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Solomons minister allegedly filmed in secret meeting

Photo: supplied A screenshot of video footage reportedly showing the secret meeting

LOOP PNG | 19 July, 2017

The Solomon Islands opposition says it has obtained video footage of a secret meeting between the minister of mines and energy and a controversial foreign miner in a hotel carpark.

The video in question was also published on the youtube account Delton Teorongo with the description,“Is this how the new Solomon Islands Minerals Policy is going to be administered?”

The meeting is said to have taken place late on the night of April 21 at the Heritage Hotel.

The footage shows the minister, David Day Pacha’s vehicle, an SUV with registered plate number G- 3903, arriving at the carpark around 10:40pm.

A few minutes later, a man believed to be the chairman of Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID), Ray Set Fah Chu, was seen walking down the stairs and into the minister’s vehicle.

The car park meeting lasted for around 10 minutes before the man was seen exiting the car and going back inside the hotel.

In a statement, the opposition said it strongly denounced the meeting and called on the minister to explain why he met Mr Chu.

It said the meeting was highly suspicious as two months earlier the prime minister and the mines minister were caught in a text message exchange with the same miner.

The leaked text messages showed the prime minister granting zero duty to Bintan Mining Company, a subsidiary of APID, to export bauxite from West Rennell.

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Bauxite company given notice by Solomon’s government

A second Bauxite Mining company operating on Rennell Island in Solomon Islands has been given a 14 days’ notice to respond to the government or face cancellation of its mining lease for failure to meet conditions.

Government media release | Solomon Star

The Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification Hon. Samson Maneka has issued a 14-days notice to Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID) Ltd on Thursday 7 May following a Mines and Minerals Board decision on Thursday 30 April.

The Company has 14 days to respond on why its Mining Lease should not be cancelled.

The notice to cancel the Company’s Mining Lease is in accordance to section 71 of the Mines and Mineral Act for failure to meet conditions required by the board.

The Minister has also taken a similar action against another Company, PT Mega Bingtang Borneo Limited by canceling its prospecting license and mining lease on Thursday 7 May.

The company was issued a 14 days show cause letter on 23 December 2014. However, the Board has considered the response from the company and proceeds to advise the Minister to cancel the prospecting license and mining lease accordingly.

The Mining Leases were granted to Asia Pacific Investment Development (APID) Limited on 5th September 2014 and PT Mega Bingtang Borneo Limited on 9th September 2014 by the former Minister of Mines.

Controversies surrounding the two companies have brought the Ministry under heavy criticism since the issuance of mining leases to the companies to explore and mine bauxite on Rennell Island.

Permanent Secretary Kauha today has confirmed that the Mines and Minerals Board have made their decisions on the matters in an extra-ordinary meeting on Thursday 30th April 2015.

The recent board decisions have now put an end to the ongoing confusion on the legitimacy of the companies’ operations on Rennell Island.

The Solomon Islands Government will now negotiate with APID on the royalty payments for the three (3) shipments by the company since it was granted a mining lease late last year.

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