23 May 2017

Situation tense in remote Solomons' province over mining

3:37 pm on 23 May 2017

There is tension in Solomon Islands Temotu province as people on Santa Cruz voice their opposition to plans for bauxite mining.

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Photo: 123RF

An Australian company Pacific Bauxite has secured a licence to prospect the island and its representatives are in the island's capital Lata this week.

Some local people are opposed to their presence and have set up roadblocks to stop them from travelling around the island.

A spokesperson for the community, Sir John Ini Lapli, who is also a former governor general of Solomon Islands, said the issue had divided families and tribes, making the situation very tense.

"Because the great majority of people do not want this. Just the few that these people are working with. And there is a real possibility for clashes between the landowners, tribal groups, even relatives themselves if the government is not clear cut about how to deal with this."

He said the granting of the prospecting license happened virtually overnight after a period of political instability resulted in a change to the leadership of the provincial government.

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