Country not benefiting from Rennell mining: Govt

Care Taker Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela.

Caretaker Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela has admitted yesterday that the controversial Bauxite mining in Rennell island has contributed negligible amount of income to the country’s economy.

Since its commencement, the mining company had exported more than 64  shipments on which government had received almost negligible amount , which is estimated at SBD$2.5 Million  in tax revenue and royalty payments.

Mr Houenipwela said apart from some direct employment benefits to the workers in Rennell the country was not benefiting from this operation at all.

“I am told, that the Government just accepts what they company tells us about the total weight of ore being exported, the moisture content of the ore being exported ,as this proportion is excluded from pricing calculations,” he said.

“The market price that they are buying the bauxite ore for which I am told is less than 50% of the current market price we can receive from it. We do not even have our own verification process, and as the sovereign country that owned the resources, we do not even have a role in setting the price that our ore should be paid at.”

The caretaker prime minister also said a further concern was that APID did not have any capability or expertise in Mining, raising the questions on why the development consent and the mining lease was granted to it.

He said he had instructed the Director of Mines to undertake a full review of the process involved in the assessment and award of the Mining Lease to APID, the Director of Environment to conduct a similar assessment on how or why such an accident and its impact on the environment could not have been foreseen, and also instructed the Attorney General and both Directors to advise on the legality or otherwise issuing the development consent and the mining lease to a company with no expertise in mining – which then on-ward contract another company to conduct the actual mining operation.

“It is my position that should any irregularities and or illegal act , or if the normal due process was not adhered to in the award of the development consent and / or the mining lease, then this would constitute a serious breach in our process and must then be dealt with accordingly including the revocation of the development consent and the mining lease,” he said.

“If this operation is to continue, the environmental and pricing arrangements must be reviewed immediately given the environmental and economic impact on the country of these practices by the company.”

By: Lowen Sei. 

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