Tuesday, 14 June 2011 8:06 AM

Government Should Honor International Tender Process

Opposition leader, Dr Derek Sikua, has condemned the Government for disrespecting the International Tender Board's decision to award Sumitomo Company of Japan the license to carry out nickel prospecting on San Jorge Island in Isabel Province.

The condemnation came after the Opposition was furnished with a stunning report on how the Danny Philip led government revoked the letter of intent granted by the former Minister for Mines to Sumitomo in November of 2010.

Dr Sikua says according to the report, the Solomon Islands Mineral Board revoked the Letter of Intent for nickel prospecting on San Jorge in April and instead issued the Letter of Intent to Axiom KB - an Australian company.

The former Minister for Mines, in his letter to Sumitomo on the revocation, said the cabinet had taken the decision because the company failed to sign surface access agreement with landowners since September 30, 2010.

However, the Opposition Leader said according to the report provided to his office, the Japanese company had already secured 200 signatures of landowners on San Jorge.

Dr Sikua says Sumitomo is a reputable company as the Japanese Government owns 30 percent share in it and is one of the few mining companies in the world with the equipment to process nickel ore.

Dr Sikua says the action by the NCRA Government has the potential of straining Solomon Islands diplomatic and bilateral relations with Japan.

The NCRA government has since back tracked on its decision to award Axiom KB the prospecting license, citing irregularities in the application process.

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