FIJI earned $2.8 million in revenue from the first shipment of bauxite this year, bringing total earnings to about $52.2m since mining started at Nawailevu in Bua in 2010.
Director Mineral Development Dr Raijeli Taga said the first shipment this year left Fiji’s shores on March 3.
XINFA Aurum Exploration Fiji Ltd’s first shipment this year occurred significantly earlier compared with the single shipment of 2016, which did not take place until early September.
Dr Taga said the bauxite shipped to China weighed 58,709.60 tonnes.
“This raked in revenues of $1,350,320.80 in US dollars,” she said.
In 2015, this newspaper reported that the company had so far exported 1.2 million tonnes of bauxite worth $48m from the shores of Bua in the Northern Division.
In July last year, the company said they were expecting to export 70,000 tonnes of bauxite valued at $4m by mid August, however, in September it was announced that a shipment of 69,000 tonnes valued at $1.4m had been exported.
Company director Derek Qiu had said then that they could not export more bauxite because of a drop in global market price.
He said the quality of bauxite was another contributing factor to the slow export process.
Earlier Dr Taga said the generally challenging bauxite market, coupled with issues surrounding the ore’s quality, affected bauxite export.
Despite this situation, Dr Taga said XINFA Aurum Exploration Fiji Ltd would continue with its mining operation to stockpile for later export when the commodity price improved.
When contacted for comment on Monday, XINFA Aurum Exploration Fiji Ltd said all comments on bauxite issues would be made by the Department of Mineral Resources.
Dr Taga had said the number of bauxite exports could not be estimated for 2017 because of the volatile nature of the mining business.
She said bauxite from Fiji was not of premium grade and had to compete with bauxite from countries such as Australia, Mongolia and Indonesia which were of superior grade.
Dr Taga said further exports would be purely a business decision of the tenement holder which would depend on the market price in terms of profitability and sustainability of their operations.
She said if the export price was not feasible then the tenement holder would continue with the mining activity and export when the price was right.