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Solomon Islands: Environment Advisory Committee withholds development consent for bauxite mine

The Solomon Islands Environment Advisory Committee (EAC) has refused consent for a bauxite mine on Wagina Island. The decision has been appealed by the developer, Solomon Bauxite Limited (SBL).

It is reported that the proposed mine would have had significant environmental impacts including on water quality, air quality, the ecology and marine environment, as well as for local residents who rely on the sea and land for their livelihoods.

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Article
15 January 2020

Solomon Islands: Solomon Bauxite Limited performing in Wagina Island keeps raising local communities mining concerns

Author: Amnesty International

 9 December 2019

The Solomon Islands Minister of the Environment should conduct face-to-face consultations with local communities on Wagina Island to hear their concerns before deciding the fate of a proposed open-cast bauxite mine there, Amnesty International....

The Minister is expected to decide soon whether to uphold a March 2019 Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) decision that overturned the mining licence, after residents raised fears it could impact livelihoods on the island.

[...]

In 2013, the Ministry of the Environment granted a Solomon Islands-registered company, Solomon Bauxite Limited (SBL), a permit to mine bauxite....

In March 2019, the EAC overturned the Ministry of Environment's consent for the mine. [...]

...In meetings and correspondence with Amnesty International, the company has stressed that it has always complied with the laws applicable to its operations and has acknowledged the importance of upholding human rights.

[...]

"There is much apprehension about the potential environmental and social impacts of this mine and many community members told Amnesty International they did not feel sufficiently informed or consulted about it," said Richard Pearshouse.

[...]

A consultation meeting on the proposed mine was held in Kukson village in February 2013. Official government minutes from that meeting show only 23 villagers attended and that no-one attended from Nikamuroo (the village closest to the proposed mine). The EAC found deficiencies in the process of raising public awareness about this consultation meeting and the application for a licence.

Wagina residents told Amnesty International that four copies of the 2012 EIS were sent to the Island after the February 2013 consultation meeting. The 2012 EIS was supplemented by another EIS in June 2013, approximately four months after the meeting in Kukson. According to Amnesty International's interviews with residents of Wagina, no consultation meetings took place to discuss this new information.

[...]

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Article
18 May 2019

Australian-based developer appeals historic decision against Solomon Islands bauxite mine

Author: Environmental Defenders Office New South Wales (EDO NSW)

May 2019

The first and ground-breaking decision by the Solomon Islands Environment Advisory Committee (EAC) refusing development consent for a bauxite mine on Wagina Island has been appealed by the developer, Solomon Bauxite Limited (SBL).

...[T]he EAC found that:

  • Legislative procedures for public consultation and publication of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were not followed;
  • the EIS did not meet legislative and regulatory requirements;
  • the decision to issue a development consent is inconsistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and
  • there were unacceptable impacts to the environment, the residents of Wagina and their livelihoods and on nearby islands and marine environment.
  • SBL, which appears to be have been backed by Australian, New Zealand and Hong Kong based interests, was granted the development consent in 2013.

SBL is appealing the EAC decision ...to the Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology....

EDO NSW's International Program is assisting the Landowners Advocacy and Legal Support Unit (LALSU) within the Solomon Islands Public Solicitor's Office (PSO) in responding to this appeal.

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Article
18 March 2019

Historic defeat for bauxite mine in Solomon Islands

Author: Environmental Defenders Office New South Wales

26 March 2019

The Solomon Islands Environment Advisory Committee (EAC) has revoked a development consent for a bauxite mine on Wagina island, in a ground-breaking decision following the first-ever merits appeal hearing in Solomon Islands.

...The proposed mine covering 60% of the small island of Wagina would have had tremendous environmental impacts on water quality, air quality, the ecology and marine environment. It would also have had dramatic and likely irreversible impacts on the more than 2000 residents who rely on the sea and land for their livelihoods.

The EAC decision to revoke the development consent was based on these grounds:

  • legislative procedures for public consultation and publication of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were not followed;
  • the EIS did not meet legislative and regulatory requirements;
  • the decision to issue a development consent is inconsistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and
  • the unacceptable impacts to the environment, to the residents of Wagina and their livelihoods and on nearby islands and marine environment.

...The decision represents a win for the people of Wagina and for the environment of Solomon Islands, as well as demonstrating the importance of an independent legal appeals process and the building of environmental law capacity in the Pacific region with the support of the EDO NSW International Program.

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