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Commercially viable bauxite deposits found on Rennell island in the Solomon Islands

Staff Reporter | 4:46 PM | |
More than 26 million tonnes of commercially viable bauxite deposits were found in west Rennell island.
Asia Pacific Investment and Development Limited (APID) revealed this in an environmental report produced after it carried out prospecting on the site.
APID is a joint venture company between foreigners and some locals, which is registered here.
The company recently submitted its application for a mining licence to the Ministry of Mines and Energy to extract the minerals on west Rennell.
It said its finding was confirmation of a discovery of bauxite deposits in west Rennell by Mitsui Mining and Smelting Company of Japan in the 1970s.
Bauxite is a mineral bearing rock named for the region in France where it was first identified. One of the key components of bauxite is aluminum oxides, which can be processed to make aluminum products.   
APID said in its application that if granted a mining licence, they will carry out a simple mining method that will be harmless to the environment.
“The method proposed for the mining of the bauxite is a simple one and does not involve high or sophisticated technology,” it said in its report to the ministry..
“It involves clearing the bauxite pockets of vegetation and digging the bauxite ore (soil) and transporting them to a base, drying them and loading them to ocean going vessels using barges.
“The ore is then taken to overseas smelters where it is processed into the required alumina product,” the company said.
It added all of its overseas analysis of the bauxite ore by various overseas smelters have proven a very high content of bauxite in the samples which now give it the urge to proceed on to a commercial mining operation, given the economic circumstances of the country right now.
“The APIDs prospecting programme has now identified and located enough ore reserve bodies or pockets and is satisfied that this is now viable for an immediate commercial operation.
“APID group has been in constant contact with its key landowning individuals and group and is satisfied with the support rendered to it by the key landowning families and individuals. 
“In fact APID has already advance negotiations with the landowners who have already signed on to the development of the resource.
“They have also urged APID to speed up work on the development of the mine.
“It is probably appropriate to remind all as well that, the Rennell Island tenement had already been acquired for mining in the past by the government for the Mitsui Mining operation.
“There have even been trial Mining of some of the Bauxite pocket (at Tingoa) and all landowners or tribes and clans have already been identified during the Mitsui operation as far as the land is concerned.
“Since the mining technique and methods is so simple, APID is ready to proceed with mining immediately following finalization of relevant agreements.
It added potential adverse impact from any mining the proposed operation would be:
•    Loss of cultivable subsistence land
•    Potential for hydrocarbons to enter subsurface and surface water flow
•    Short term decrease in biodiversity due to reduction in forest cover from mining and road areas and the infrastructural areas.
•    Loss of outstanding universal value in protected area (WHS)
•    Public access on main roads affected (limited due to volume of traffic)
•    Increase in lifestyle diseases due to increase income
•    Low entrepreneurial participation by locals
•    Relocation of village, houses and other amenities (from mining pockets)
•    Increase in alcohol and substance abuse/antisocial behaviour
•    Declining social/cultural norms and behaviour and Impacts of climate change on various components of the development.
But APID said it will devise mitigation measures in its Environmental Management Plan.
“That includes prime focus on the operations on most western end of the island Mining to limit potential influences to the East Rennell WHS, all mining pockets will be progressively rehabilitated and re-vegetated, and Environmental Management Plan will be formulated to take of all issues
“Waste Management Plan will be formulated for waste management, water Management strategies, Traffic Management Plan and APID will assist in implementation of WHS Management Plan such as assist in eradication of invasive species or taro nematode problems.”
The company claimed their assessment has found that the mining operation will be a clean and sustainable operation following mining industry standards as it involves simple mining techniques (conventional strip mining).
“It does not produce undesirable hazardous products, and no waste ore due to no significant processing of ore on site.
It also does not involve with any chemical processing on site and thereby no such issues as tailings and waste water exist,” the company said.
The Sunday Star understands an Indonesian mining firm is also eying the Rennell deposit.
Bintang Borneo Mining Company, which already has a prospecting licence, was last month granted a business licence to operate on Renbel.
The Indonesian company has been courting executive members of the Renbel government and had recently accommodated them at Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara for a week.
 
Solomon Star