Forum Opposes Mining in Solomon Islands’ Isabel ProvinceNewsroom
More than a hundred delegates from the community, church, and local government opposed plans to put up mining operations in Isabel province of the Solomon Islands, one of six country signatories to the Coral Triangle Initiative.
The delegates thumbed down the proposed mining operations by a foreign company in a forum held 19 November 2013.
A report from Radio New Zealand International said for now, the plans for mining in Isabel province are “on hold” after delegates of the forum “aired strong opposition to the activity.” The forum brought together more than 150 delegates, the report said.
Axion, an Australian company, signed a 50-year deal with the landowners for an area in Isabel that is known to have nickel deposits worth billions of dollars.
Sumitomo from Japan is also keen to start prospecting but delegates at the forum opposed the proposal, the report said
The report quoted church officials saying that “people are worried mining would increase existing social problems.”
The Nature Conservancy, which organized the forum, said “the government cannot oversee additional mining operations.”
Willie Atu, the Nature Conservancy program director, was quoted by the report as saying that if mining happens in the province, it would bring “more challenges for the government.”
Local government officials meanwhile said the province “needs lawyers experienced in striking mining deals.”
“We haven’t negotiated for a mine in our experience. Most of our legal people here do not have the long-term attachment to the mining industry to be aware of how you negotiate benefits,” Isabel premier James Habu said.
The Nature Conservancy also works with other nongovernment groups such as the Asian Development Bank in projects to protect natural resources including the Coral Triangle of which the Solomon Islands is a part.