14 Jul 2005

Solomon Islands Temotu province to sign agreement shortly with Australia to develop Vanikoro

10:18 am on 14 July 2005

The Vanikoro lumber company in Solomon Islands says a final agreement with an Australian-led consortium on a joint venture development looks set to be signed shortly.

The project, which is expected to be worth nearly a billion U.S. dollars, involves the milling of trees on Vanikoro, for export.

The chief executive officer of the Vanikoro Lumber company, Edward Daiwo, accompanied several Australians on their inspection of the Vanikoro site last week.

He says they were excited to see it and the project will benefit locals.

"After the tension most of our people will have lost their jobs after the closing down of the oil palm, noro, sols taiyo,and also the gold mine in Guadalcanal and a lot of people in Temotu lost their jobs and and I think Vanikoro provides an opportunity to provide employment in their own province."

Mr Daiwo says the Australians plan to return to the Solomons by September to sign the final agreement.

A major tourism venture is also being discussed.