GSMB cancels licences for Mannar mineral project

GSMB cancels licences for Mannar mineral project

GSMB cancels licences for Mannar mineral project

Written by Hassaan Shazuli

23 Apr, 2021 | 8:10 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): Sri Lanka’s Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) has cancelled eight exploration licences issued for a mineral project in Mannar.

The cancellation comes after a News 1st investigation exposed that the licence holders had not informed the GSMB about their change in ownership to an Australian company.

Sri Lanka’s law requires the licence holders to notify the GSMB of any change in ownership.

The GSMB had issued nine licences to five local companies to explore minerals in Mannar. Sources said that the ninth licence is also expected to be cancelled in due course.

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

An investigation by News 1st revealed a ploy in which these firms were sold off to two Mauritian companies that were acquired by an Australian company named Titanium Sands Ltd.

Our investigation also exposed the manner in which at least three companies were sold off for a mere Rs 1000.

Three individuals named Kobiraman Balakrishnan, Priyantha Abeywardana and Robert Nelson figured prominently in the process.

Since 2016, Australia’s Titanium Sands Ltd — which acquired the licence holders — had been focused solely on exploring and mining minerals in Mannar.

Valuable minerals used in the aircraft and paint industries, amounting to nearly 265 million tonnes had been discovered following exploration carried out using the nine licences.

In documents filed with the Australian Stock Exchange, Titanium Sands Ltd. said talks are being held with parties in China, Japan, India and the UAE to export Sri Lanka’s minerals.

While licences for the project have now been cancelled, Titanium Sands Ltd. has suspended trading and its securities at the Australian Stock Exchange until the April 30.

The company had requested for the trading halt “pending an update on the company’s Mannar Island Project in Sri Lanka”.

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