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Committee to investigate ‘unauthorised’ mineral exploration by Australian company on Mannar Island

Sri Lankan cabinet ministers approved a proposal to appoint a committee to investigate an ‘unauthorised’ mineral exploration project involving an Australian company on Mannar Island.

News First reported that the company, Titanium Sands Ltd, has been conducting unauthorised exploration activities.  The cabinet paper reportedly states that the committee will seek to identify the authority under which the company has been conducting such activities.

“We will investigate whether this company, Titanium Sands Ltd. holds a permit to research mineral sands in Mannar,” Wimal Weerawansa, Sri Lanka's industries minister. said.

According to News First, Titanium Sands Ltd claimed it had used the exploration licences of the subsidiaries of two Mauritius companies named Srinel Holdings Ltd and Bright Angel Ltd.

While Titanium Sands Ltd claims to own both Mauritian companies, the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau reportedly said that the local companies that owned licences has not informed them of any involvement of Mauritian or Australian companies.  Furthermore, the company records of the local licence holders did not indicate any involvement of a foreign company.

Titanium Sands Ltd’s scoping study for the Mannar Island Heavy Mineral Sands (HMS) Project, is an ilmenite feedstock project which has “indicated the potential for an economically robust long-life project” and possible future expansion, the Managing Director, Dr James Searle said.

Tamils in the North and East have expressed concern over the impact of ilmenite mining on the local agriculture and Tamil fishing communities.

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