Sri Lanka’s minerals under threat from Australian firm

Sri Lanka’s minerals under threat from Australian firm

Sri Lanka’s minerals under threat from Australian firm

Written by Hassaan Shazuli

28 Jan, 2021 | 9:05 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): A News1st investigation has uncovered a scheme that allows foreign entities to exploit Sri Lanka’s mineral deposits at a low cost.

The scheme was unearthed during an investigation into a proposed mineral mining project on Mannar Islands involving an Australian company – Titanium Sands Ltd.

Sri Lanka’s Mines and Minerals Act does not allow licences to be issued to companies not registered in the country for the exploration or mining of minerals.

How did the Australian company get involved in the project?

Five local companies hold nine licences to explore minerals on Mannar Islands in which a valuable deposit worth nearly 265 metric tonnes has been discovered.

They are Kilsythe Exploration Pvt Ltd., Hammersmith Ceylon Pvt Ltd., Supreme Solution Pvt. Ltd., Sanur Minerals Pvt. Ltd. and Orion Minerals Pvt. Ltd.

The local companies were sold off to two Mauritian shell companies – Bright Angel Ltd. and Srinel Holdings Ltd.

The Mauritian shell firms were ultimately acquired by Australian company Titanium Sands Ltd. allowing it to take control over the exploration project that is underway.

Three individuals identified as Kobiraman Balakrishnan, Priyantha Abeywardena and Robert Nelson figured prominently in the process.

News 1st has seen documents that show how the licence holders had fallen into the hands of the Australian firm.

How did Titanium Sands Ltd. get hold of these licences?  

Kilsythe Exploration

Kilsythe Exploration, that holds an exploration license, was set-up on the 3rd of September 2015.

Since its establishment, all shares of the company were held by its parent firm Kilsythe Investments Pvt. Ltd.

The initial director of the parent company Kobiraman Balakrishnan had resigned on the 12th of January 2016 paving way for two individuals named Priyantha Abeywardena and Robert Nelson to become directors.

On the 10th of March 2016, Abeywardena and Nelson allowed all shares of the parent company Kilsythe Investments to be sold to a Mauritius firm named Srinel Holdings Ltd at a mere 1000 rupees.

Srinel Holdings was ultimately acquired by Titanium Sands Ltd.

Hammersmith Ceylon

Hammersmith Ceylon, set-up on the 29th of September 2015, holds 2 licenses to explore Mannar Islands.

In this firm as well, Kobiraman Balakrishnan who served as the first director, resigned on the12th of January 2016 paving the way for Priyantha Abeywardena and Robert Nelson to become directors.

All shares of Hammersmith Ceylon, valued at just Rs 1000 were transferred by its initial shareholder Kobiraman Balakrishnan to a company named Singha Lanka Investments Pvt. Ltd.

At that time, Singha Lanka Investments was owned by the Mauritius Company Srinel Holdings Ltd.

Srinel Holdings was ultimately acquired by Titanium Sands Ltd.

Supreme Solutions

Supreme Solutions, set up on the 24th of November 2015, holds 2 licenses to explore Mannar Islands.

The company had been registered as a subsidiary of Singha Lanka Investments a day after Priyantha Abeywardena and Robert Nelson became directors of the parent company.

As Singha Lanka Investments was already owned by Mauritius Company Srinel Holdings Ltd., the licenses slipped into the possession of the foreign entity.

Srinel Holdings was ultimately acquired by Titanium Sands Ltd.

Orion Minerals

Orion Minerals set up on the 7th of July 2015, owns 2 exploration licenses.

All shares of the company valued at 6 million rupees were sold to a company named Rotim Investments Pvt. Ltd.

At the time of selling the shares, Robert Nelson – a shareholder of Titanium Sands Ltd, was serving as a director of Orion Minerals Ltd.

Priyantha Abeywardena and Robert Nelson were serving as directors of Rotim Investments that purchased the license holder.

At that time Rotim Investments had been owned by a Mauritius company named Bright Angel Ltd. that was later acquired by Titanium Sands.

Sanur Minerals

Sanur Minerals, that holds 2 exploration licenses, had been established on the 29th of September 2015, under its parent company Sanur Asia Investments Pvt Ltd.

All shares of Sanur Asia Investments valued at Rs 1000 was owned by Kobiraman Balakrishnan, who was also an initial director.

Just as in previous occasions, Kobiraman Balakrishnan had resigned on the 13th of January 2016, paving the way for Priyantha Abeywardena and Robert Nelson to take over as directors.

Following his resignation, Kobiraman had sold all shares of Sanur Asia Investments to Rotim Investments Ltd, in which Abeywardena and Nelson were directors.

At that time, Rotim Investments had been owned by a Mauritius company named Bright Angel Ltd. that was later acquired by Titanium Sands Ltd.

News1st will continue to reveal more on this matter.

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