The Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources is still waiting for an objection letter from the Mataqali Nabukebuke in Namosi.
As per a recent newspaper article, the mataqali allegedly claims that they had objected to the Special Prospecting License (SPL) that was renewed to Namosi Joint Venture.
Namosi Joint Venture that is comprised of three companies, namely Newcrest Mining, Mitsubishi Minerals and Nittetsu Mining, has held this SPL since 2010.
According to the article the spokesman for the Mataqali Nabukebuke, Petero Saunivalu said they owned rights to the Special Prospecting Licensing 1420 which had the biggest copper deposit in the province.
To clarify, the landowners do not own rights to the SPL. Exploration rights remain with the licensee, in this case the Namosi Joint Venture and these rights have been accorded by the State as the owners of minerals, through the office of the Director of Mines.
As per the Mining Act the landowner's consent is not a requirement for issuing or renewing license for prospecting.
As a courtesy call a joint consultation was done with the member of the mataqali of Nabukebuke, Namosi Provincial Office, Namosi Joint Venture and the Ministry.
This is because there is no change in land ownership as an exploration license only grants mineral exploration rights to the licensee.
Landowner consent is only required when a mineable or viable mineral resource is established and the project proponent expresses an interest to commence mining via a mining lease.
Renewal of exploration license is based primarily on the performance of the licensee and ongoing technical and financial capability to ensure bona fide or progressive exploration work on the ground during the renewal term.
Meanwhile, the Department conducted a notification of renewal on the 17th of September last year.
All landowning units within the footprint areas were notified as required under the provisions of the Mining Act 1965.
The Namosi Prospect has been explored since the 1960s and most of these areas have been disturbed and rehabilitated from previous exploration work prior to the Namosi Joint Venture holding exploration rights over the area.
The Department has yet to present an Environmental Management Plan because of restrictions of movements and gathering from last year.
This will be presented during their next meeting with the Mataqali.