Solomon Islands leader of Opposition, Matthew Wale has called for a moratorium on all forms of mining in the country until proper management and regulatory policies are put in place to safeguard the people and their non- renewable resources.
The call follows recent media reports revealing the cancellation of registered titles to all Rennell bauxite lands and the emergence of a fresh cat and mouse race between APID and Nickel Enterprise SI Ltd (NESI) in respect of the same mineral rights.
Wale said the latest development is a clear revelation of the escalating problems that had plagued this industry for years fuelled by white collar corruption and lack of government political direction.
“It is a clear mix of a fall out from previous dealings rigged with controversy and evidence of inadequacies in the current administrative system to stop opportunists easily passing-off as reputable mining companies.
“In that particular case indications are, NESI is but a surrogate of Bintang Mining (SI) Ltd whose shareholders may well be the architect of a scheme designed to clear off APID and gain the vacant mineral rights through NESI.
“Regrettably, recent history in this sector suggests that competency, reputation, financial and technical capacity which are key prerequisite considerations for eligibility now appear lacking in decision making relating to the granting of mineral rights,” says Wale.
He said this unfortunately has led to an influx of undesirable overnight fly-by opportunist companies easily cementing their grip on top government officials to secure control over the extractive industry.
“The current problems are just tarnishing Solomon Islands’ reputation as an attractive investment destination for reputable companies leaving us at the mercy of opportunist operators’ hell bent on serving their own selfish interests. The cycle must be stopped now before our non-renewable resources are squandered right before our eyes”.
“I therefore call on the Government to quickly suspend all pending applications and immediately impose a moratorium to remain in force until all applicable laws are reviewed and required level of improvements are added to enhance our regulatory and enforcement capacities and systems.
“I also call on the Government to cause a thorough investigation into any suspected cases of malpractice throughout the years and to deal with any officer who is involved with companies perpetuating the problems we currently have,” Wale said.