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Some 159 licenses issued, on land, under sea

By Julian Makaa HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Island Sun, Oct. 14, 2011) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), Director of Mines Peter Auga has said a total of 147 tenements and 12 prospecting licenses have been issued for mineral prospecting in the country by various companies. Of these two are for off-shore investigations while the majority are for on-shore explorations.

The two companies conducting offshore explorations are Nautilus and Blue Waters. He said Nautilus operating out of PNG has 89 tenements near New Georgia in Western Province under its Temotu Province license. Mr. Auga said the company is already investigating for potential undersea resources in the country.

"Blue Waters has 18 prospecting licences for prospecting near New Georgia, Makira-Ulawa and Temotu Provinces.

On shore companies are Honiara Holdings which has four tenements, three for prospecting and one a reconnaissance permit all for Western Province," he said.

Another one is Arms, a joint venture with New Mont, have eight, seven are on the weather coast of Guadalcanal and one at Fauro, Shortland Islands, Western Province.

"Those are very promising explorations and some of the licenses have been renewed for six years already and they are expected to apply for mining licenses.

Some of these licenses had been renewed for six years and by the seventh year they should advise whether or not they will be operating a mine otherwise they should pack up and go," the director of mines said.

"Pacific Porphrey operating also in Western Province has nine while Sumitomo has five – four at Isabel, one at Choiseul Province. Solomon Bauxite is on Wagina, also on Choiseul Province while Solomon Resources holds three for the highlands of Guadalcanal. Guadalcanal Resources is operating at the Weather coast and has two while Guadalcanal Exploration also holds two and also operating at the Weather coast of Guadalcanal. Caldera has three and is prospecting at the western part of Guadalcanal, while Cantor on Savo, is not looking for minerals, but interested in the geo-thermal on the island.

It wants to find an alternative energy source. And since it’s under our jurisdiction we too are facilitating it and once issued with a licence it should go ahead with its work," he said.

"And then three mining leases- Allied Gold which is mining the gold ridge and two alluvial mines, one of which is the Solomon Alluvial Mining - operating on lower Gold Ridge - and Pheonix International.

Mr. Auga said only two of these mining leases, Allied Gold and Solomon Alluvial Mining, are currently operating. "Pheonix had stopped since October 2010".

The Mines Director also clarified most of these exploration companies "have reached their third or fourth year but those in their final years indicated that most companies have not operated longer.

"Some pulled out in their third year but those operating on Guadalcanal and Western Province had gone into their sixth and seventh year.

Meanwhile the Mines Director flatly refused to make any comments about the Sumitomo, Axiom issue as it is currently a high court case and a result may be available in October.

"Since it’s currently a high court case, I refuse to make any comments about the issue," he responded to questions from PAC member Douglas Ete and urgings by PAC Chairman Matthew Wale that it was all right for information that may not directly link to the high court case to be discussed.

Mr. Auga made these revelations during his Ministry’s budget presentation before the Public Accounts Committee hearing at the National Parliament recently.

Island Sun

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