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Oil spills, Rennell, Solomon Islands

Three incidents related to bauxite mining on the island: two oil spills (about 300 tonnes) and one bauxite spill (5000 tonnes) threatening local communities' livelihood, food security and health.


In July 2019, while attempting to load bauxite from a nearby mine [4], bulk carrier MV Solomon Trader ran aground on a reef carrying 700 tonnes of oil [1], spilling thereby the oil into the waters of the Rennell island [1][4]. Earlier that year, another ship spilled more than 100 tons of oil into the eastern side of this same bay after strong waves pushed the ship into a reef.  As a consequence an estimated 300 people of Tenuginuku tribe residing along the coast, until present day, are not able to have fresh fish for food nor swim the waters needed for their traditional way of living [4]. The total oil spill is estimated at 300 tonnes [2]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Oil spills, Rennell, Solomon Islands
Country:Solomon Islands
State or province:Rennell Island
Location of conflict:Kangava Bay,
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific commodities:Aluminum/Bauxite
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The project operator is an Indonesian company, Bintan Mining (part of Indo Bauxite Mining Corp. ), whose directors are from China and Hong Kong. To date, Bintan Mining and Indo Bauxite Mining Corp. have altogether delivered hundreds of shipments of bauxite ore from the Rennell island to key alumina smelters in China [13].

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:3,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2019
Company names or state enterprises:Bintan Mining from Indonesia
Pacific Bauxite from Australia
Relevant government actors:Prime Minister (Mr. Hou)
Mines and Minerals Board
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- OceansWatch Solomon Islands
- Lake Tegano World Heritage Site Association
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Tenuginuku tribe
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Air pollution, Fires, Global warming
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (undecided)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:After 300 tonnes of oil spill into the island waters, a new incident occurred spilling another 5000 tonnes of mined bauxite in the same water. A lawsuit has been pressed by the local government against the oil spill. However, the same government issued new licences for mining which caused the second incident, the bauxite spill.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[8] Baines, G. (2015). Solomon Islands is Unprepared to Manage a Minerals-Based Economy. Australian National University.
[click to view]

[1] The Guardian 2019: 'We cannot swim, we cannot eat': Solomon Islands struggle with nation's worst oil spill
[click to view]

[2] New York Times 2019: "There is Poison in the Sea"
[click to view]

[3] ABC News 2019: Solomon Islands threatens to blacklist companies after 'irreversible' oil spill disaster
[click to view]

[4] ABC News 2019: Environmental disaster looms at heritage-listed Solomon Islands site after oil spill
[click to view]

[5] UNESCO 2019: Update on East Rennell oil spill, Solomon Islands
[click to view]

[6] The Guardian 2019: Solomon Islands: bay hit by oil spill suffers second contamination crisis
[click to view]

[7] Radion New Zealand 2019: Rennell oil spill an inevitable outcome of broken system, says academic
[click to view]

[9] The MaritimeExecutive 2019. Just After Oil Cleanup, Rennell Island Hit by Bauxite Spill
[click to view]

[10] Pacific Beat: Logging company "reinvented" itself as bauxite miner in Solomon Islands, says researcher
[click to view]

[11] Gizmodo 2019: For the Second Time in Six Months, a Mining Ship Has Polluted This World-Famous Reef
[click to view]

[12] The Guardian 2019: Pacific Bauxite accused of tricking Solomon Islanders over mining rights
[click to view]

[13] Pacific Bauxite Limited Official Website: Bauxite Demand
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Oil spills project KH and JMA ICTA-UAB
Last update29/07/2020
Conflict ID:5155
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