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Melanesian bishop returns for OBE and to defend home

Posted on: January 29, 2014 7:10 PM
Bishop James Mason and his family currently working in the UK
Photo Credit: Diocese of Exeter
Related Categories: Melanesia

From the Melanesia News

On a recent visit home Bishop James Mason from Isabel province, Melanesia, who currently works in England's Exeter Diocese, was presented with his OBE* by Governor General Sir Frank Kabui.

In the presence of family, friends and the Archbishop of the Melanesia, Bishop James received his OBE in recognition of his dedication and service to the Anglican Church in Solomon
Islands and abroad.

Before taking up his current position in a Plymouth parish, Bishop James was the first diocesan bishop of Hanu’ato, where he served for 13 years.

As Paramount Chief of Isabel, Bishop James was also called back to Melanesia to chair a discussion on plans for mining on the province. The meeting brought together more than 150 delegates
from the church and the community, as well as developers and government officials.

Nickel was discovered in Isabel more than 40 years ago, and an Australian mining company Axiom, has been speculating on the region’s substantial deposits for several years. In 2011 the company signed a 50-year deal with landowners for a 45-square kilometre area estimated to contain nickel ore worth almost US$60 billion.

At the meeting Bishop James said: “We are vulnerable to many climate changes and if we were to mine in the suggested places and the resettlement of villages was required, it would be
very difficult. The land tenure system in Isabel will not allow for the relocation of those displaced by mining activity.”

Following the strong opposition aired at this forum, plans for mining on Isabel have been put on hold.

*The Bishop becomes an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire - appointed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabth II.