The Premier of Solomon Islands Temotu Province says the benefits of a deal to permit a foreign mining company to extract underwater minerals from its waters outweigh the concerns.
The Australian company Blue Water Metals has been granted an exploration licence to search for gold in 12 sites near Temotu Province and if it is successful, it will upgrade the airport in the capital, Lata, and the hospital.
The Premier, Father Charles Brown Beu is downplaying concerns by some locals that mining could inhibit fishing activities and pollute the ocean.
"The people of Temotu Province should not worry too much about this because the benefits are there, which I don't know whether the national government will assist in, for example they're willing to upgrade the hospital. And the only concern is the pollution of the water, and of course which will affect the fish and other things. But as far as I'm concerned that is not possible unless they're using chemicals down at the seabed but they're not."
Father Charles Brown Beu says the provincial government is now drawing up an official agreement with Blue Water Metals.