Solomons Government Defends Mining Lease Revocation

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Opposition questions dismissed as ‘naïve’

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 6, 2015) – The Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has described the statement by the Office of the Leader of Opposition questioning the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s revocation of Bingtang Borneo’s mining lease for Rennell-Bellona Province as naïve.

A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said it is important for the Office of the Leader of Opposition to understand that the decision for the issuance of a mining lease to Bingtang Borneo for Rennell-Bellona Province was made by Minister for Mines and Energy of the National Coalition for Rural Advancement Government when it was in the caretaker mode.

"The statement by the Office of the Leader of Opposition shows the little the Opposition Leader and his officers understand about decision-making at the political government level.

"Whenever a new government takes office, it has right to review the decisions of the previous government to see if they are appropriate and in line with its policy direction.

"If it sees it inappropriate and contrary to its policy objectives, then it has the discretion to revoke them."

The statement from the Prime Minister’s Office stated that in this case, the decision by the then-Caretaker Minister to award a Mining Lease to Bintang Borneo on September 9, 2014 without the Mineral Board’s deliberation and approval effectively means that the Mining Lease was null and void.

"This position by the Mines and Minerals Board on the invalidity of the Mining Lease was readily conveyed to Bintang Borneo by the Director of Mines with clear instructions to the company to remove all its machines and equipment from the site."

The statement said the decision by the Minister for Mines and Energy, Samson Maneka to revoke Bingtang Borneo’s mining lease was made after he was briefed by his ministry officials on the position of the Mines and Minerals Board.

It said upon the rescinding of Bingtang Borneo’s mining lease, the Minister directed his Permanent Secretary to work on a Cabinet Paper to enlighten the DCC Government on the issue of prospecting boundary overlap saga to decide on the best way forward.

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