Bauxite mining causes heated debate in Bua

xinfa bauxite bua

Bua Concerns Cleared By Mining Firm

Josaia Ralago | Fiji Sun | 7 October 2016

The issue of bauxite mining raised many unasked questions among representatives causing a heated discussion during the Bua Provincial Meeting in Nabouwalu yesterday.

Xinfa Aurum Exploration Limited representative Isireli Dagaga clarified to the mata-ni-tikina (district representatives) present that there were many false and fabricated information being passed around about the detrimental impacts of bauxite mining on the environment.

“There have been concerns raised that it increases the rate of landslides, damages the marine ecosystem, even soil being taken overseas and issues of deforestation. But I want to tell you today that these issues are not true and we ensure that the environment condition is reinstated after our works,” Mr Dagaga said.

“Bauxite is an element in the soil and we only excavate four metres – to a maximum of six metres which rarely happens – of the top soil.

“I want to assure members of this meeting that soil is not being taken but only the bauxite as it will be a waste of boat space if we were to take soil.  The material is also observed in laboratories to ensure that it is bauxite before shipment.

“There are also sediment pools after the processing to filter the water before it is released into the sea.

“The top soil removed is replaced and trees replanted to prevent landslides.”

Galoa Island villager Suliasi Saraqio said this was not true as the sediments during the mining in Votua were usually piled in the Lekutu River which they used for travelling purposes.

“The water colour was different and the sediments made the river mouth shallow creating difficulty for us when we travel. But now after the mining, the situation is improving,” Mr Saraqio said.

Bua chief Ra Makutu Nagagavoka said the process that Mr Dagaga talked about – especially the inclusion of a sediment pond – was not carried out during the mining in Nawailevu, Bua.

Ra Makutu said part of the concern was on why this processes were not carried out in Bua and only when they moved to other areas for excavation.

He said in his opinion, it would be better if arable lands were not excavated and tree-felling exercises carried out just for excavation purposes as forest resources were far better if preserved.

Mr Dagaga announced that they had given out $4 million to landowners in Bua who had their lands mined for bauxite.

“This includes Nawailevu, Votua and Wainunu,” Mr Dagaga said.

“This amount has been given out to the Land Bank and iTaukei Land Trust Board.”

Ra Makutu questioned as to how fair these allocations were as they could only guess the total amount of money the company got compared to the ones these individuals received.

He said if they claimed to be fair then they should distribute a just share of the income they received from the excavation to the landowners.

Meanwhile, Xinfa Aurum Explorations is currently working on a site in Dreketi in Macuata.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Fiji

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