Radio New Zealand
Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, has called an urgent meeting to resolve a row over a mineral prospecting license.
Namosi Joint Venture was awarded the license to search for minerals in the Namosi highlands, west of Suva.
Mr Bainimarama says he was told by the Minerals Resource Department that everyone had been consulted.
But a landowner in Waivaka Village, Pedro Leveni, told Bridget Grace they did not give approval.
PL: The Namosi Joint Venture is the join of three companies, two from Japan, Nittetsu Mining from Japan and Newcrest Mining from Australia joined together and they call themselves Namosi Joint Venture, that’s the company that is exploring minerals in our land. They didn’t renew the SPL license in the last decade, and the last renewal is on the 15th of March this year and matagali, matagali is one of the land that is being targeted by this company, there is a lot of mineralisation in my land. And seven matagalis discovered that this company has been destroying our environment, damaging our forest, and the flora and fauna, damaging it without good payment. And that’s why we didn’t want to renew the SPL license. At the end of the day what we have been understanding that, doing exploration for the last four decades, at the end of the day they will mine our land. But we don’t want mining, that’s why we don’t want to renew the exploration license.
BG: Your village was consulted about the license and you said no?
PL: When the license expired in March 15th this year, the Minerals Department came around asking the landowners about their view, and seven matagalis that are involved in this exploration, the company’s targeting their land. They don’t want, we don’t want the license to be renewed because of that reason, damaging the ecosystem, damaging the rivers, damaging the flora and fauna. At the end of the day we are looking, at the end of the day exploration has been done where for the last four decades, we didn’t understand this company would mine our place, but Namosi is very small and we have heard from the geologists about the deposit underneath our land is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. Compared to the deposit on the surface, they are totally different. The mine on our land will be going nowhere and our land would be like a desert. I think you’ve been seeing good vegetation of Fiji especially in Namosi, in the rainforest. If they mine this place there will be a big pool of water with nothing growing. And we are thinking of our future generations, where will they survive. Because mining will just go on for 50, 60 years, after the mining what will our trees and deserts survive. That’s why we do not renew this license.