Tag Archives: Temotu

Tensions in Temotu as expiry of Aus miner’s licenses loom

NASA picture of Nende, known also as Santa Cruz, in Solomon Islands’ Temotu province. Photo: NASA

Radio New Zealand | 15 March 2018 

Tensions are rising in Temotu as an Australian miner’s licences to prospect and operate in the Solomon Islands’ province approach their expiry date.

Pacific Bauxite secured a prospecting license in 2016 with the support of some local landowners and obtained a provincial business license, after a change in the local government, to begin working on Nende Island.

But it has met with stiff opposition from other landowning groups who accuse the company of operating illegally and are trying to take it to court.

Koroi Hawkins has more – audio link 

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Pacific Bauxite accused of tricking Solomon Islanders over mining rights

Tomoto Neo, Nendo, Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands. A bauxite mining proposal has divided the small island community. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The Australian mining company denies any impropriety and says landowners are keen to find out if there are mineral resources on their land

Ben Doherty | The Guardian | 6 July 2017

An Australian mining company is embroiled in a standoff with landowners in the Solomon Islands over allegations it coerced, bullied and tricked communities into signing over prospecting rights to their land.

A government has been overthrown and local landowners have taken to blocking the roads with stones, and even reportedly confronting miners with bows and arrows, to thwart prospecting on their island of Nendo, in Temotu, the easternmost province of the Solomon Islands.

The miner Pacific Bauxite denied any allegations of impropriety and said it had worked in close consultation with landowners who overwhelmingly supported their work. So far it has engaged only in hand-augered prospecting.

“Landowners are also very keen to determine the potential for minerals resources on their land,” it said. “Prospecting provides landowners with a free evaluation of their land while not committing to mining.”

The company’s application to prospect had divided the Nendo community, a former Solomon Islands governor general has said.

Several Nendo residents have said dozens of landowners across the island had withdrawn their authorisation for Pacific Bauxite to prospect on their land.

The company said it was not aware of any landowners withdrawing their consent and that it remained committed to consulting with all owners.

Some Nendo landowners have said they were not properly told about the environmental impact of mining, and others claimed they were coerced into signing, told to sign blank pieces of paper, or had their signatures forged.

Ruddy Oti, a Temotu landowner and legal adviser to the Temotu Conservation and Sustainable Development Association, told the Guardian many people on the island felt they had been manipulated into signing surface access agreements for the company on their land.

“There was no proper consultation, people were not informed about the potential impacts on their land,” Oti said.

“People were asked to sign blank pieces of paper and those signatures were collected and used to say these landowners have agreed to have prospecting on their land. They did not agree.

“Some signatures were forged. When I went to see those people, they said they had not agreed.

“And some landowners said they felt pressured to agree, or that they weren’t told about the impact upon their land. Those people have now written sworn affidavits to revoke their consent.”

Oti said landowners were resolute in their opposition, having seen the damage of logging on other parts of the island. Some villages have reportedly put roadblocks up to stop miners’ access or threatened vehicles with bows and arrows.

A video clip posted online shows some of the community resistance to bauxite mining on Nendo.

The short clip, shot on a phone, shows a group of primary school students and adults in the village of Noipe on Nendo blocking the road and not allowing a Pacific Bauxite vehicle to pass.

Mark Gwynne, the executive director of Pacific Bauxite, tells the group – most of the children are holding signs in protest – the company is engaged in “good, ethical mining”.

“There is good mining, and there is bad mining, and I have witnessed a lot of bad mining,” he says. “We work really hard with communities. We reach agreements with communities for good mining. We do everything we can to protect the land, the villages, the people. We provide education for the children, we provide training for the adults for working. Can I show you some photos?”

He is told by one man from the village:

“Excuse me. We don’t need photos.

“Just stop everything. We don’t need mining and we don’t need prospecting. That’s all. The land is our heritage and our future for young generations.”

The standoff ends politely and without incident.

Brett Smith, the director of Pacific Bauxite, told the Guardian that at this stage the company had only completed reconnaissance prospecting and that no landowners were compelled to allow mining.

The Solomon Islands. Mining has a damaged reputation in Nendo after logging and mining on Rennell Island, on the south-western edge of the Solomons archipelago. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

“The results from this are highly encouraging and warrant further work to determine the potential for mineable resources,” he said.

“We are hoping that the bauxite deposits at Nendo provide the potential for a long-term industry that will result in the generation of beneficial sustainable businesses for the people of the Temotu province.”

Smith said Pacific Bauxite had a strong commitment to the environment and the community on Nendo, in particular around health, education and future sustainable economic development.

“To date, the company has provided much needed medical equipment to the Lata hospital and donated equipment to several schools. This community support will continue while the company is working at Nendo.

“The company also has a policy of providing employment opportunities for the local community. Expatriate workers are kept to a minimum to allow maximum benefit and training to local people. In the event that mining takes place in the future, the company intends constructing a training facility to Australian standards. That will have the capacity to provide skilled employees from the local community.”

Smith said mining on Nendo would have the smallest possible footprint and minimise the environmental impact.

“Rehabilitation will focus on returning a large majority of affected land to its former condition, while small areas will be considered for future beneficial businesses which will be fully owned by the local community.”

He said the company was being discredited by a small group that had misinformed the community.

Solomon Islands’ director of mines, Thomas Toba, said officials from his department considered several objections to mining on Nendo before granting the prospecting licence. Department officials have travelled to Nendo to speak to concerned landowners.

Toba recently launched the Solomon Islands’ new national minerals policy, which established a legal framework for minerals extraction, something the country had not had previously.

“Another thing is people will realise that resource owners have a part to play in this; they have a voice in this industry compared to the past when they can only participate through signing of surface access agreements,” he said.

While some landowners say they are resolutely opposed to mining, others argue it will bring development to the most remote region of the Solomons archipelago, often overlooked by the central government in Honiara.

Father Brown Beu, a former provincial premier, said that Pacific Bauxite prospecting would bring educational and health facilities to the province.

“We trust this company,” Father Beu told a radio interview. “Unlike other investors who are invested in Temotu province, the AU Mining[50% owned by Pacific Bauxite] will shortly after this be able to provide medical facilities that we will never – I don’t know, for centuries to come – never have.”

But the penultimate premier of Temotu province, Nelson Omar, who was overthrown in March, believes he was ousted because of his resistance to business licences for miners and loggers in Nendo.

Omar’s government had refused to grant a business licence to Pacific Bauxite. In March he was defeated in a sudden vote of no confidence. Within a week, a business licence was granted by the new government to Pacific Bauxite.

Omar said he warned the Temotu assembly that his refusal to grant the licence – and another logging licence to an unrelated company – were the bases for efforts to remove him.

“In fact it did happen. Days after the closure of the assembly, the licence was granted in an urgent executive meeting, exactly as I predicted,” he said. “The consent from the resource owners, the landowners, how it was conducted, was not done in accordance with existing legislations which govern the mining and logging acts.”

A traditional ceremony in Nendo. The great majority of locals do not want the mine, says former governor general Father Sir John Ini Lapli. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The former Solomon Islands governor general, Father Sir John Ini Lapli, said the possibility of mining had divided families and tribes.

“The great majority of people do not want this,” he told Radio New Zealand. “Just the few that … are working with [the miner]. And there is a real possibility for clashes between the landowners, tribal groups, even relatives themselves if the government is not clear cut about how to deal with this.”

Lapli said the people of Temotu felt their wishes had been ignored in the central government’s decision to issue a prospecting licence. He said the land belonged to the people, not the government.

“They came with some agent unknown, they didn’t come through the procedure, and so they were able to pay some people to sign accepting this proposal they signed up and that is how they locked [in] these landowners.”

Mining has a damaged reputation in Nendo after logging and mining on Rennell Island, on the south-western edge of the Solomons archipelago.

The mining, by Bintan Mining, was initially undertaken with an illegally granted mining licence and has left the island with widespread environmental damage and little development. A video, Ripples in Rennells, by the environmental advocacy organisation OceansWatch has been played widely across Nendo.

Pacific Bauxite was formerly Iron Mountain. Pacific Bauxite bought a 50% stake in AU Capital Mining, which was the original holder of the prospecting licence from the Solomon Islands Mines and Minerals Board.

Pacific Bauxite’s website says of the Nendo project:

“The company is extensively engaged with the local community and is ensuring that all stakeholders are made fully aware of current and future activities regarding the project. To this end, meetings held with local parties to date have been extremely positive and much enthusiasm has been generated by the recent phase of exploration.”

It says the company’s initial auger drilling and pit sampling had confirmed “extensive large-scale bauxite deposits” on the island.

The main area earmarked for mining is approximately 12km by 2km (24 square kilometres) but that is expected to grow.

“Identified areas of mineralisation are significantly larger than historically defined,” the company said.

Bauxite is the principal ore in aluminium and is also used to make refractory materials, chemicals and cements. Australia is the world’s largest producer of bauxite.

Bauxite deposits are found in tropical and subtropical areas, in deeply weathered volcanic rock, which make up many islands in the Solomon Islands archipelago.

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Frustrations over mining coming to a head in Temotu

Johnny Blades | Radio New Zealand | 27 May 2017

“There is good mining, and there is bad mining, and I’ve witnessed a lot of bad mining,” said the Australian man to the villagers of Noipe in Solomon Islands’ Temotu province. Given the anger among the local community about bauxite mining, the conversation was remarkably cordial.

He stood at a roadblock near their village, speaking to a handful of local adults, a teacher and a couple of dozens kids from Noipe’s primary school.

“We work really hard with the community,” said the man, “we have agreements with communities for good mining. We do everything we can to protect the land, the villages, the people.

“We provide education for the children, we provide training for the adults. Can I show you some photos?” he said, turning to get something from his nearby vehicle.

“Excuse me,” responded the teacher. “We don’t need photos…. we don’t need mining and we don’t need prospecting, that’s all. Our land is our heritage, our future for young generations.”

“Okay, alright, thank you very much” said the Australian politely, before leaving.

The villagers posted a video of the exchange, saying they do not agree with mining prospecting proceeding on their land.

Bauxite interests on Nende

The Australian man in the video is Mark Gwynne, the executive chairman of Pacific Bauxite.

This Australian company owns 50 percent of AU Capital Mining, the entity which in 2015 won a license to prospect for bauxite at Nende in Temotu.

Temotu is the most remote of Solomon Islands’ provinces. Ships only general visit once a fortnight, and the twice weekly scheduled flights from Honiara are often cancelled as there’s little money to have the grass on Temotu’s airstrip cut.

Yet there was a hotly anticipated visit to Temotu this month by Mr Gwynne and company.

Pacific Bauxite, formerly named Iron Mountain Mining, is coming in for increased criticism in Temotu over the way in which it gained a business licence to conduct its prospecting at Nende.

The license was granted soon after the Temotu provincial assembly voted in a new premier, David Maina, to replace Nelson Omar in late March.

Shortly in advance of this, there was a flurry of activity on the Australian stock exchange as people bought up shares in Pacific Bauxite.

Mr Omar said the basis for moves to oust him was to approve the business license.

“(But) the consent from the resource owners, the land owners, how it was conducted was not done in accordance with existing legislations which govern the mining and logging acts,” he explained.

NASA picture of Nende, known also as Santa Cruz, in Solomon Islands’ Temotu province. Photo: NASA

On its website, Pacific Bauxite insists it has consulted with locals.

“The Company is extensively engaged with the local community and is ensuring that all stakeholders are made fully aware of current and future activities regarding the Project.”

But its assertion that “meetings held with local parties to date have been extremely positive and much enthusiasm has been generated by the recent phase of exploration” contradicts comments from the local communities themselves.

In reality, there’s a groundswell of concern about the mining among the community on Temotu’s main island of Nende (Santa Cruz).

The concern stems partly from the feeling that local people weren’t adequately consulted in advance about the prospecting by either the company or government.

It’s also about fear of the potential environmental impacts of mining.

Grace Kava, who is from the west side of Temotu’s capital Lata, said most locals did not approve of bauxite mining due to fear it would devastate the soil.

“Because they already knew something like the bauxite mining up in Rennell (Rennell and Bellona) province up the road, getting into a big disaster. They think the same thing will happen to them.”

Ben Menivi, who is from Graciosa Bay, said mining posed a big threat to the water source from which the community gets much of its drinking water.

“So that’s my concern, that if the bauxite continues, they come and continue the work, they might destroy some of the top soils at the top of the mountain where the water source comes from.”

Ngadeli village in Temotu Province, Solomon Islands, is threatened by sea level rise. Photo: Britt Basel

Another local, Henry Kapu, explained that because Temotu was prone to natural disasters and sea level rise, people from smaller islands in the group flocked to Nende, the province’s main island, when they needed support, for food or other materials.

This support system, he explained, would be at stake once bauxite mining had disrupted then island.

“We will lose all our arable land, crops, ancestral land boundaries and this will further exacerbate land disputes,” he said, warning that this could lead to more ethnic tensions in Solomon Islands.

Beu comments controversial

But the Temotu provincial executive is firmly supportive of the project.

A provincial minister, and former Temotu Premier, Father Brown Beu said they had considered the environmental impacts, and had consulted with landowners who were largely in favour.

“The people who are against this prospecting are all working class, and they’re all in town (Honiara),” said Mr Beu.

“They should be assisting in some form, but they are not. Let me tell you that these people as far as we in Temotu are concerned, we’re not listening to them, full stop.”

He claimed that as a remote and under-developed province, Temotu needed the kind of investment the bauxite project will bring.

“Unlike other investors who are invested in Temotu Province, they (the mining company) will shortly after this be able to provide medical facilities that we will never – I don’t know, centuries to come – never have.

“Isn’t that something that’s worth looking forward to?” he said.

Vanikoro Photo: Supplied

Beu’s characterisation of those against mining as outsiders sparked an outpouring of frustration on Facebook.

“BB is our past parliamentarian. He says we are backwards in terms of development. Has he done any thing better for our province since his leadership to date?” commented one Temotu man, Desmond Nimepo.

When several personnel from the mining company turned up to Temotu in the past week, roadblocks were mounted by landowners to stop them moving around.

Mr Beu, who confirmed the miners were under police protection while in Lata, has been criticised by a former governor general of Solomon Islands.

Sir John Ini Lapli, speaking on behalf of Nende people, said Mr Beu’s comments were way off the mark, and that the provincial executive had not taken the impacts of mining into account.

According to Sir John, the issue had created tension in Temotu.

He indicated that the upper levels of government and the ministry of mines were essentially likely to proceed with the mining, no matter how people felt.

“You know they said in this law that certain feet below the ground it is not people’s land it is government’s so that is where the government is sort of proceeding with this.

“They came with some agent unknown, they didn’t come through the procedure and so they were able to pay some people to sign accepting this proposal they signed up and that is how they locked these landowners,” said Sir John.

Logging machinery being burnt by landowners in Vanikoro, 2016. Photo: Facebook

The provincial government’s involvement in this process echoes the murky experience around logging operations on Temotu’s Vanikoro Island.

These operations, which have proved deeply divisive among the local community, are run by a Malaysian company, Galego Logging, whose local partner is Vanikoro Lumber Limited.

VLL’s chief executive is Temotu’s deputy premier, Ezekiel Tamoa.

According to a Vanikoro native, Edward Pae, Mr Tamoa promised that the developer would come and build infrastructure like roads, clinics, wharves, even an airstrip.

“But up to now, they only cleared the land… There’s totally no infrastructure developments on the land at the moment,” said Mr Pae.

“After five years, there’s a lot of environmental damages done: rivers crossed, tabu sites illegally entered, and most of the water sources that villages or communities around Vanikoro used to use have been badly damaged. And now the people on the ground in Vanikoro are really affected.”

Mr Tamoa disagreed, saying an airstrip and roads were being developed.

He also denied there was any conflict of interest in him being the head of a company which got a license to log from the government he is part of.

“Overall I think most of the landowners are ok with these developments. They stand to benefit from it.”

Logging erosion, Vanikoro. Photo: Planet.com

Mr Tamoa disputed claims that in Vainkoro there had been no benefits from the logging, saying an airstrip and roads are being developed.

He insisted only a few locals had reservations about logging, but opposition to the project has already boiled over into unrest last year in the form of sabtoage of logging machinery, and has the potential to do so again.

Public momentum

Numerous moves are underway to press the provincial government to halt bauxite mining activities, including a public petition.

Furthermore, a paralegal officer and concerned landowner Ruddy Oti has been collecting affidavits signed by Nende landowners who feel they were misled by the mining company when it sought to get landowner consent.

Mr Oti said that earlier some individual landowners had been approached by the company and gave their consent.

“After OceansWatch (environmental NGO) did some awareness in Nende, there was some sense of realisation among these landowners who had previously given their consent, then they eventually agreed to have their consent revoked.”

A Nende local, Titus Godfrey, said developers coming to Temotu tended not to follow the full process for gaining consent, knowing some local people were interested in quick gains.

“I mean, people gave their signature because the guy who came, he came in December, when he came in at Lata they said if you want to survey our places to do the drilling you can pay two hundred dollars or something like that.”

OceansWatch ranger Titus Godfrey (left) and Nelson Nyieda, the NGO’s Solomon Islands Lata Office manager. Photo: Oceans Watch

It’s a theme echoed by Father Colton Medobu, an Anglican priest in Noole village.

“The situation like here is people wait for opportunities of money: money, money, money… And when people talk about these things, people resort to advances of big money. That’s why these people get caught up and use this as the basis for working with the people. And sometimes it extends to bribing people without explaining to people what they’re asked to do.”

He said that local people wanted development and were not strictly against resource extractive operators.

But he said there had to be proper consultation and a proper strategy to avoid potential displacement and negative health and environmental consequences from these developments.

While the provincial government appears unlikely to answer the petition’s call to revoke the mining company’s business license, it is under increasing pressure to respond to the community’s concerns.

Yet Brown Beu said that until the prospecting finished, it was premature to stop the project.

“Then, we’ll be able to ascertain as to whether there is enough minerals in the soil for mining later on,” he explained.

“And that of course depends on the people. Once the reports have come out and the people basically ‘no we don’t want mining’ then that’s it, it’s finished.”

This may not be the case – once a Surface Access Agreement is signed, there is most likely little way to stop the mining other than through the courts at the Development Consent stage.

However out of the current venting on Temotu has come an elevated level of public discourse about mining and logging.

Raising awareness about these areas was the aim of NGO Oceans Watch.

The co-director of Oceans Watch Solomon Islands, Chris Bone, said there had been a lack of awareness about not only the impacts of logging and mining, but also about what the better options were.

Of those options, eco-tourism is an area that Temotu has huge potential in.

“The place is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a very, very special and very treasured place, and one of the last places in the Pacific that has this wonderful primary rainforest,” he said.

Temotu locals want to protect their land against devastation from mining activities. Photo: Facebook

For now, Temotu’s leadership and the national government are being urged to be decisive about community concerns over the mining issue.

Sir John Ini Lapli and others have warned that frustrations among landowners and tribal groups could escalate to violence if nothing is done.

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Miner advocates cautious approach to sea bed mining in Solomons

Radio New Zealand

The mining company exploring for deep sea minerals in Temotu Province of Solomon Islands insists it’s taking a very cautious approach to its work.

Australia-based Bluewater Metals was granted a licence last year to search for gold in sites around Temotu.

Greenpeace has found the potential impact of deep sea mining is not properly understood yet and Temotu people concerned about the environmental impact of deep sea mining are calling for more consultations before it proceeds.

Bluewater’s co-founder Timothy McConachy told Johnny Blades their highest priority is the environment.

TIMOTHY MCCONACHY: We’re taking baby steps every step of the way so that we can assess and review the outcomes of our work. And we’ll proceed to the next step with care once we’ve assessed these baby steps. In exploration we’re not damaging the environment in really any way. It’s as much or as little as researchers would do carrying out scientific investigations, and that’s exactly what we’re carrying out at this stage – a scientific excavation.

JOHNNY BLADES: So the excavation stage for this project is not really much about whether there’s gold there and so forth, but whether it’s going to be safe, environmentally viable.

TM: Again, we’re taking baby steps, that’s our philosophy. And it’s equivalent to the precautionary approach, what we’re doing. It’s exploration, not mining. The benefits that could come from if we are successful could result from mining, which will be a few years down the track, and also the need for sub-sea minerals, which I think is… We will follow how oil and gas went from land into the sea about 70 years ago. I think that minerals will go the same way.

JB: It sounds like there’s a lot of unknowns, including with the technology that might be used to mine down there.

TM: The facts are that we’re learning as we go, and hence the baby-step, cautious approach that we’re taking. We want to be open and transparent. It’s a learning curve that everyone is on. By taking the baby-step approach we actually learn as we go. But I think we’re fairly knowledgeable. I have over 25 years in deep sea minerals deposit knowledge with a PhD from the University of Toronto, having studied these hot springs on the sea bed for a PhD. And when I was at CSIRO I had seven years there just studying these deposits all the time.

JB: But there is this sense of these countries that are quite undeveloped in the Pacific whose communities don’t necessarily get a say in matter.

TM: Sometimes their leaders are not always transparent in things, that these countries are being guinea pigs. And I think, again, that the approach that we’re taking, we’re exploring, not mining, at this stage. And there’s a lot of mining that SOPAC – the South Pacific Geoscience Commission is rolling out at the moment, has done for the last year and a half or so. And they’re developing and building the capability that is actually educating the people in the south-west Pacific. It’s not just government people that go along to the workshops that they’ve been running. It’s open to NGOs and all sorts of different people that have genuine interests and they’re genuine stakeholders in this business.

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Solomons’ Temotu people call for more consultations over sea bed mining

Radio New Zealand

People in Temotu province in Solomon Islands are calling for more consultations before undersea mining goes ahead in their region.

Australia-based company Bluewater Metals was granted an exploration licence last year to search for gold in 12 sites near Temotu. If successful, Bluewater is promising to upgrade the hospital in the Temotu provincial capital Latta and assist with an upgrade of the provincial airport to international standard.

Greenpeace is warning that the world is poised for a new kind of gold rush – one that will take place in the ocean. A recent report by the environmental lobby group found the potential impact of deep sea mining is not properly understood. It goes on to suggest that sediment waste and pollution from the discharge of toxic heavy metals could devastate hotspots of biodiversity and endanger deep sea organisms.

The Solomon Islands government is the latest in a string of governments in the Pacific, which is believed to be rich in undersea minerals and rare metals, to be courted by an international mining company keen to capitalise on what lies beneath.

Bluewater Metals last week outlined its plans to community leaders and government officials in Temotu province, a collection of islands at the far southern end of the archipelago. The company’s founders, Timothy McConachy and Harvey Cook, emphasised that finding out whether what is under the sea can balance the apparent deficit in terrestrial mineral supplies cannot be left too long or to chance. They say their company takes a precautionary approach, using safe, environmentally friendly technology. The premier of Temotu province, Father

Charles Brown Beu, says if seabed mining in his region turns out to be enviromentally unsafe the onus will be on the national government to put a stop to it.

“CHARLES BROWN BEU: At this point in time all I can say is that perhaps we give it a try and if it doesn’t work then perhaps it would be an area where maybe in the future we wouldn’t allow it in any other places in Solomon Islands. We try and take that risk.”

But our correspondent in Temotu province, George West, says local people are very unhappy that the national government is allowing undersea mining to go ahead.

“GEORGE WEST: The communities want more consultations and even in the long run maybe they are going to demand some – something for what they think their share of the natural resources is in their seas or bordering their seas.”

George West says people are worried that something could go wrong. But Father Beu says until he receives proof that seabed mining is environmentally unsafe he will not stand in the way of it taking place in the region. He says so far there is no evidence to show that undersea mining will have any impact on either fish or the marine environment.

“GEORGE WEST: If the people are made aware of these things in no uncertain terms most definitely people will welcome this. It’s only because they still do not understand and it’s not easy to understand these things – it is the first time ever in Solomon Islands.”

The director general of the Pacific’s technical advisory body, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, says island governments should be using its legislative guide on deep sea mining before granting licences. Jimmie Rodgers says one of the areas the document covers is who should benefit and how the benefits should be shared.

“JIMMIE ROGERS: Because normally you’d have the company gets the most of it, then government gets a portion of it and how much of what government gets goes to resource owners. I think it’s very important that those things are clarified way up front.”

Jimmie Rodgers says ill-informed countries risk mining companies taking advantage of them.

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Experimental seabed mining company on the defensive over opposition

Miner assures Solomon Islanders of cautious approach to seabed

Radio New Zealand

The mining company exploring for deep sea minerals in Temotu Province of Solomon Islands insists it’s taking a very cautious approach to its work.

Australia-based Bluewater Metals was granted a licence last year to search for gold in sites around Temotu.

Greenpeace has found the potential impact of deep sea mining is not properly understood and Temotu people concerned about the environmental impact of deep sea mining are calling for more consultations before it proceeds.

Bluewater’s co-founder Timothy McConachy says people should be assured that they’re only exploring at this stage.

“We’re taking baby steps every step of the way so that we can assess and review the outcomes of our work and we’ll proceed to the next step with care once we’ve assessed these baby steps. In exploration we’re not damaging environment in really any way. It’s as much as or as little really as what researchers would do carrying out scientific investigation, and that’s exactly what we’re carrying out at this stage.”

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Prospecting group denies deep-sea mining claims

George West | Solomon Star

DIRECTORS of a mineral prospecting company operating in Western and Temotu Provinces have refuted claims their company is doing deep-sea mining and that their activities had led to the February 6th devastating Santa Cruz tsunami.

Dr. Timothy McConachy and Mr. Harvey Cook of Bluewater Metals (SI) Limited told a gathering of community leaders and government officials in an awareness meeting on Monday in Lata, Temotu Province, that science has no evidence whatsoever that prospecting leads to environmental damage.

“Let alone farfetched ideas like causing a tsunami, and in any case we are not doing any mining at all.

The directors said what their company has been permitted to do was prospecting and that is what they are doing in Western and Temotu Provinces as well as in other parts of the South Pacific.

“We are just checking out water, soil and rock samples to see if it is worth investing in actual mining, but deep-sea mining is a very expensive exercise.”

They said exploration have no adverse effect on the environment.

“We are taking a “baby step” approach to prospecting, which means we are extra careful not to hurt the environment or any members of the living community.”

The directors said if their findings prove that mining is viable, they will apply to the Solomon Islands government for a mining license.

“But even then, our technologies and techniques are environmentally friendly as we use no chemicals, no explosives, no tailings and no damages to the seabed or habitats or animals.

Bluewater Metals (SI) Limited is a member of the USA and Australia based Neptune Mineral inc. Group and is licensed to do seafloor prospecting by the governments of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

In the Solomon Islands, they have a seven-year staggered license to do undersea prospecting in Western and Temotu Provinces.

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Solomons’ Temotu province premier maintains support for seabed mining

Radio New Zealand

The premier of Solomon Islands’ Temotu province says until he receives proof that seabed mining is environmentally unsafe, he will not stand in the way of it taking place in the region.

The comment follows reports that local people are unhappy the national government has granted a licence to an Australian company, Bluewater Metals, to do exploratory drilling for gold in the seas off Temotu province.

But Father Charles Brown Beu says there is no evidence to show that undersea mining will have any impact on either fish or the marine environment.

“If the people are made aware of these things in no uncertain terms most definitely people will welcome this. It’s only because they still do not understand and it’s not easy to understand these things, it is the first time ever in Solomon Islands.”

Father Charles Brown Beu says if there is any sign that the mining is unsafe the onus is on the national government to put a stop to it.

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As in New Ireland, Solomon Islands leaders fail people on experimental seabed mining

Dr Maebuta: Provincial leaders fail its people

Elliot Dawea | Solomon Star

University of the South pacific (USP) lecturer Dr Jack Maebuta said Temotu provincial government (TPG) has failed to consult the people when the Blue Water Metal mining company undertake their prospecting.

In a statement yesterday Dr Maebuta said many people are ignorant about the likely impact of such mining and thus TPG should not prey on our people’s ignorance as leverage into rushing off the implementation of the project.

Prior to implementation of this project there needs to be a feasibility study of likely impacts undertaken and results should be communicated to the people, he said.

Dr Jack added such study needs to be undertaken by an internationally reputable independent body so as to maintain ethical and neutral reporting.

The province should not buy into presentation done by the company as this only promotes their hidden agenda.

“Temotu is a sea of mostly atoll islands, you mine our seabed you mine our life.”

He said studies have proved that deep seabed mining has associated environmental problems. For example, Jan Magne Markussen (1994:33) confirmed three main areas of problems:

“If the propose mining will be eventuate It will seriously destroy the top few centimetres of the seabed, causing major disturbance and disruption to the flora and fauna in the mining tracks.

“We do not want to be fooled by scientific explanation and the use of advanced and sophisticated technology to justify the no-harm operation of the project.

“Our people’s livelihood depended on the environment and the deep sea mining project must not be allowed,” Dr Maebuta concluded.

Temotu is a disaster prone region and the recent deadly tsunami that devastated parts of Santa Cruz should be a turning point that we must look after our environment

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Filed under Environmental impact, Solomon Islands