16 March, 2018, 12:00 am
Tensions are rising in Temotu as an Australian miner’s licences to prospect and operate in the Solomon Islands’ province approach their expiry date.
Pacific Bauxite secured a prospecting licence in 2016 with the support of some local landowners and obtained a provincial business licence, after a change in the local government, to begin working on Nende Island.
But it has met with stiff opposition from other landowning groups who accused the company of operating illegally and are trying to take it to court.
At the heart of the local protests against Pacific Bauxite is the fact that the area it’s hoping to mine is among the most fertile farming land on the island of Nende.
A member of the Temotu Provincial Assembly, Nelson Omar, said he told the miners as much in 2016 when he was the premier and his administration rejected their application for a provincial business licence.
“You came without gun. Better you go back and you bring a gun, you shoot every people on the island and then you do your mining,” Mr Omar said.