Mineral Resources assures decision by month-end
Rachna Lal | Fiji Sun
Mineral Resources Department director, Malakai Finau, has confirmed the department is currently assessing the application for the mining lease extension for the Wainivesi Mine.
Wainivesi Mine’s mining lease expires at the end of July and Mr Finau has assured they would give the decision by the end of this month. Asia Pacific Resources Limited, owner of the Wainivesi Mine in Tailevu, are hopeful for a positive response soon.
Managing director, Matthew Huggan, said a positive response will open the door to further investment and the generation of significant wealth for the nation, the landowners and of course the investors.
“Our investors are comforted that the Fijian Government has never cancelled or failed to extend a Mining Lease when the holder has continued to invest on a consistent basis as we have,” he said.
“Furthermore, the Bainimarama Government has consistently been pro-investment and pro-wealth generation for the nation. “So our overseas investors feel confident that the lease will be extended and that we will be able to keep working and investing in the nation. ” What makes the Wainivesi mine interesting is that it contains a range of minerals from gold, silver and copper to zinc and lead.
Mr Huggan said executives from Asia Pacific Resources who met with Mr Finau at the end of April were told the department was reviewing all necessary aspects.
“He acknowledged the huge amount of capital and the effort invested into the project by the company and assured that this would be taken into account,” Mr Huggan said. “He also assured our executives that Fiji remained a secure and worthwhile investment destination for mining and exploration capital.”
Asia Pacific Resources is privately funded company with local and foreign shareholders. Mr Huggan said “A number of our shareholders have investments in other projects and companies in Fiji and have long term confidence in the nation as well so this is good news. “
However, in the current global investment environment, they are like everyone else and concerned about the safety of their money.
“They see the major risk to their investment in our company is that officials at the Mineral Resources Department do not extend our Mining Lease. “If the lease is not renewed, the investors are concerned they will have lost their investment of millions of dollars and that their other investments are similarly in jeopardy. “The company is just in the process of completing a $500,000 private placement and several major investors have said they would wait to see if the Mining Lease was extended before they invested any further.”
Meanwhile, the mine, after a set-back as a result of Cyclone Evan in December,is now back on track. Mr Huggan said they hope be processing concentrates in the next couple of weeks.
“Last week our ball mill was running and commissioned well. Our crushing circuit was also commissioned well,” he said. “As we speak, the leaching circuits for copper are being commissioned. And the leaching circuits for producing gold and silver circuit are set to be commissioned in the next fortnight. “Once this is completed, we will commission the final ball mill and be in production.”
Mr Huggan said for about six months, there would be a time of fixing and modifying the plant to make it run smoothly after which they would be producing at full capacity.