Malaita Forum Demands Solomons PM Deal With Gold Mine Issues

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Gold mining company reportedly not complying with laws

By Ednal Palmer

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 17, 2012) – The Malaita Ma’asina Forum (MMF) has given the Solomon Islands Prime Minister seven days to respond to issues they raised in the media or take drastic action.

MMF’s General Secretary William Gua and his communications officer Henry Daukalia yesterday delivered a letter they said was sent to the Prime Minister last Thursday.

They said the seven days ultimatum started when the letter was delivered to the Prime Minister last Thursday therefore should lapse this Wednesday.

The letter urged the PM to address act on the issues immediately.

"We urge that your office address the issues raised on behalf of the people of Solomon Islands and desire that the respond and cause of action taken by your office be made within seven clear working days. An initial meeting with you is of essence," the letter addressed to the PM stated.

The letter stated that the breaches and non-compliance of the laws of Solomon Islands by Gold Ridge Mining Company Ltd. (GRML) continuously, despite the revelation of the illegal gold export, GRML made no interval and redirection and fail to admit their failures.

"There is total deliberate ignorance of the sovereignty of this nation and a clear implication of an attitude of convicts by GRML in not complying with our laws."

As a result, MMF demanded that the following actions be taken:

They further demanded ‘on behalf of the financial members’ of the National Provident Fund (NPF) for the Minister of Finance to immediately amend the NPF Act to allow:

The letter was signed by MMF president Charles Dausabea, Vice President Jessie Bobby, General Secretary William Gua Treasurer Daoga, assistant treasurer Dickson Waimora and Media officer Henry Daukalia.

A Government insider last night said the Government had already explained its stand on the issues.

"The Government had made it really clear in its initial responses," the insider said.

He said there are mechanisms in place on the Gold Ridge issue and the Government had also clarified that.

"On the offshore account, the CBSI had also clarified the issue.

"There is nothing new to explain here, except that one of the MMF members is trying to run a smear campaign against the Finance Minister Rick Hou because of political interest – probably in the next election."

The insider said the Prime Minister cannot step on other people’s responsibilities just because he is the Prime Minister.

Gold Ridge Mining Limited last night in a statement said it has not had any contact whatsoever from anyone at MMF.

"At no stage have they sought any facts regarding these matters. Gold Ridge has at all times operated in accordance with the laws of the Solomon Islands, and with the full knowledge of the government. We have complied with all directions and requests by Customs in relation to the export of gold by GRML," the company said.

It explained that each shipment has been cleared by customs officials prior to export.

"Under the Mining Agreement we are specifically allowed to maintain an offshore account for risk management purposes and to facilitate settlements of transactions. The company has paid all taxes, royalties and duties required at all times. As a publicly listed company we seek to maximize our production for the benefit of our shareholders, and we operate in full accordance with the law at all times."

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