Category Archives: Fiji

Vatukoula Gold Mines To Recruit 200 More Workers

Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited.

Charles Chambers | Fiji Sun | November 20, 2018

Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited (“VGML”) is looking to recruit 200 more employees to fill the  vacant positions for their underground operations.

The mining company is working with Western provincial administrators based in Ba and Rakiraki on a village-based recruitment programme.

The intent of the project is to encourage young men from rural areas of Fiji to take up employment as underground miners at Vatukoula Gold Mines while maintaining their links to their communities.

These links will be maintained by means of:

  • A roster which will enable two weeks off every six weeks.
  • Transport will be facilitated to the employee’s community and return to Vatukoula on conclusion of their two week community break.
  • As part of their application and selection process, each applicant will be encouraged and required to commit to a specific project in their home community e.g. building a residence, a farming venture, communal building project etc.

Criteria

Young men who meet the criteria for employment will be offered free shared accommodation, inclusive of all services (electricity, water) and the services of a cook but contributing to the cost of their meals out of their wages.

Land for planting of root and vegetable crops will be made available and the opportunity to lower their food purchase  costs by supplying from their home villages and being compensated out of their food budget.

VGML will also provide the services of a Community Relations Officer (“CRO”) as a mentor for all participants in the scheme.

The present CRO is the former head teacher of the Vatukoula Primary School, Serupepeli Koroitubuna.

Recruitment

The CRO will liaise with relevant Government agencies to facilitate the employee’s project wherever possible and will also provide guidance in financial literacy and extracurricular activities designed to grow the employee’s life skills.

To date the company has recruited 12 young men from the villages of Balevuto and Toge from rural Ba and Namauimada and Naboutolu in Ra.

The new employees undergo four weeks of surface induction which involves safety, how to handle themselves in different situations and first aid to name a few.

They are then taken underground for a further six months training under strict supervision.

VGML Corporate Services manager Dini Laufenboeck said the feedback had been very encouraging but that the mines would strictly monitor conditions going forward.

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First $25,221 Distributed To 100 Landowners As ‘Fair Share’ Of Mineral Royalties In Vatukoula

Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Faiyaz Koya (middle) handed out cheques to 100 Nasomo landowners under the right of landowners to a fair share of mineral royalties. It came at Vatukoula on November 6, 2018. Photo: Charles Chambers

US$300 each a ‘fair share’ – really? 

Fiji Sun | 7 November 2018

Tis the season to be jolly.

Yesterday marked the day that the right of landowners to a fair share of mineral royalties for the extraction of minerals under their land comes to fruition.

Thanks to the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his FijiFirst Government

It marks a milestone event not only for the landowners but also for the mining sector and also the Government of Fiji.

The Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya yesterday disbursed the fair share of mineral royalties to landowners of Nasomo, where $65,221 was distributed to 100 landowners.

The landowners will receive $652.21 each.

Mr Koya said: “It is not a one off payment but a series of payments depending on the amount of mineral being mined by Vatukoula Gold Mine as it operates and continues to mine below your land. 

Share of royalty

“The share of the royalty is for the gold mining at Vatukoula Gold Mine by the Vatukoula Gold Mine Ltd (VGML).

“I would also like to acknowledge the Vatukoula Gold Mine for paying the mining royalty initially to the Mineral Resources Department.”

Mr Koya thanked the landowners of Nasomo that were involved in the consultation with staff of the Ministry of Lands and Minerals in particular the Turaga ni Koro, the Trustees for the Nasomo Landowners in working with staff of the Mineral Resources Department in sorting out issues and making this historical day possible.

mr Koya said: “This fair share payout to landowners is in recognition of their contribution to national development through the use of their land for the purpose of mining.

“This will also assist in socio-economic development and economic empowerment of indigenous landowning communities and boost local economic activity in rural areas, improve quality of life as per vision of the government for equitable benefit sharing.

“I hope that these monies which the Government has shared with you today will be put to good use for the benefit of your families and community and harmonious existence with other stakeholders of the mining community.

“This Government not only talks about caring for all landowners in Fiji, in this case for iTaukei landowners of Nasomo, but backs up its talk with actions such as this, indeed actions speak louder than Words on this historic and milestone occasion.”

Normal practise

Section 30 of Fiji’s 2013 Constitution mentions that all minerals are owned by the state. It provides for the owners of any particular land (irrespective whether customary or freehold) or of any particular registered customary fishing rights to be entitled to receive a fair share of royalties or other money paid to the state in respect of the grant by the state of rights to mine minerals from the land or the seabed in the area of those fishing rights.

“The normal practise is for the royalty to be retained by the state as the owners of minerals under Fiji’s Mining Act,” Mr Koya said.

“However the current government had passed legislation in the May sitting of parliament giving effect to section 30 of the constitution thus allowing the sharing of royalty in this case with native landowners.

“This is the new way of benefit sharing in mineral development in our beloved country where mineral royalty is shared equitably amongst landowners for the betterment of all concerned.

“This “fair share” law is the first of its kind in Fiji (and the region) and the landowners of Nasomo are the first landowners to receive this fair share of Mineral Royalty under the 2013 constitution.

“This proves Government’s continues effort to care for landowners in the utilisation of their land and in this instant for the added benefit for the provision of land for mining whether directly on the surface or indirectly as in case.”

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Impact of Industrial & Economic Development on the Environment

 

“We do not inherit the earth from our parents; we borrow it from our children”….North American Indian proverb.

Pope Francis once said: “Destroying the Earth is Sin”. 

“Safeguard Creation,” he said, “because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us!”

“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude,”

Leo Nainoka | Social Empowerment & Education Program (SEEP) | 25 October 2018

The over-riding concerns of the Church and certain NGOs like SEEP has been centered on the inequitable distribution of the Earth’s resources.

We would like to focus our attention on the greatest victim of unjust decisions – the rural communities.

One of the themes of Social Justice is “Stewardship of Creation” and it is very important to take note of what Pope Francis said “Creation is a gift that God has given us so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all.”

There are still so many proposed extractions, gravel extraction on rivers and logging being planned in Fiji.

There are so many in the tenement list and maps by the mineral resources department. There is a plan to mine bauxite in Wainunu, Bua. There is magnetite mining earmarked for Sigatoka river by Dome and Gusunituba river in Votua, Ba by Amex. There is ongoing bauxite mining in Dreketi.

There is also plan to mine Namosi of Gold and copper but the Tikina Namosi landowners Committee are holding up well and of cause there is a plan to mine gold in Tuvatu, Sabeto.

Before every mine plan is given the green light there needs to be proper EIA – Environment Impact Assessment process conducted by independent consultants and Fisheries Impact Assessment for gravel extraction and harvesting code of practice for logging

We must first of all examine our ideas on development. Those who are proposing these kinds of development must first of all understand the meaning of development. What really does development mean to us?

Women of Votua selling crabs

While it is true to say that buildings, equipment and money are useful and necessary for development purposes we must be really careful to remind ourselves that development must focus on human beings and not things like infrastructure and so forth. The core of development has to be people centered.

Early French Philosopher, writer and historian – Francois Marie Arouet, well known as Voltaire once said “Don’t think money does everything, or you are going to end up doing everything for money”

In a Globalized world that we are living in, there is more hunger for more money instead of focusing more on human beings.

The focus of every development initiative should be people. Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future generation’s.

The village of Votua, Ba are not really happy on how their “qoliqoli” will be used to extract black sand or magnetite.

In the Fiji Times of 9th July, 2018 it was reported that “Villagers are still in the dark on black sand extraction”. It went on to say that “some villagers of Votua in Ba claim they have been in the dark regarding black sand extraction in Ba River which according to locals the real name of the river is “Gusunituba

The village of Votua has three clans – Yavusa Narai , Yavusa Nadua and Yavusa Balavu. The heads of these three clans told us, Social Empowerment & Education Program – SEEP that “they said yes only to exploration” not extraction.

The location of the extraction site is a food bank and livelihood for the people of Votua, Ba. It has contributed to their daily sustenance, education for their children, their community hall, their church and their school.

Proposed extraction site

The three heads of clans are asking the Government to put a stop to this project for the sake of their people, not only for themselves but for their future generation as well.

Awareness raising and community education are extremely important in relation to conservation of fresh water and sea water resources.

This topic also warrants attention in school curricula and adult education programs, including health awareness programs. Again the Churches should play a leading role in encouraging understanding and commitment.

There were no proper due diligence conducted with the people of Votua, Nawaqarua and nearby settlements. There was no free, prior and informed consent.

Free Prior and Informed  Consent is an extraction of UNDRIP for all Indigenous peoples of the world and the right of all Indigenous peoples to be fully informed and to reject or give their consent based on their own collective decision making process to any project that concerns them.

All facts must be shared to the communities where they can base their decision and agreement by the people is without force or manipulation by outside parties or the State.

The indigenous people have their right to their land and their resources and must be free from hazardous materials. They have the right to redress.

According to the people of Votua Village, their Marine resources are very important to their daily needs.

They also said that if these extraction project is given the green light it will drastically threatened their livelihood and very disruptive to coral reefs nearby. Several saltwater and freshwater species are endangered by this unsustainable practice. According to experts extraction causes profound effects on biodiversity.

Makereta Ranadi and Mikaele Seru – looking for crabs to sell

Mangroves are largely found on both sides of the river bank in Gusunituba, Votua, Ba. If these mangroves are lost or if there are mangrove canopies, this will result in diminishing the values of subsistence and commercial fishing by the community of Votua, Nawaqarua and nearby settlements.

Fish, crabs, land crabs, reef fish, prawns, mud crabs, turtles, ark shell, freshwater mussels and other varieties of resources from the river and the seafront can all be threatened if this project is given the green light to go ahead. The environment and the economy are two sides of the same coin.

Most local communities all over the world are resisting environmental destruction of their local habitats and communities but it will be good for the Government and companies to engage with communities like Votua, Ba and provide awareness and bring them on board to understand the effects of this project on their culture, their social lives, the degradation to their environment and their livelihood and how it will have an impact on our weather patterns.

The Social Empowerment & Education Program – SEEP together with communities of Votua, Nawaqarua and nearby settlements believes and hope that good sense and wisdom will prevail, allow for proper consultation and let the communities understand the effects on their environments, their social lives, culture and give them the space to properly discuss these and make their own decision whether to mine or not to mine.

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Fiji govt needs to ensure people understand environmental impacts of mining

Peter Loy Chong. Photo: Pacific Theological College

“The majority of the people are not aware of the full consequences of mining, logging, stone extraction, black sand mining and how these will impoverish their food bank,” he said.

Fiji govt needs to walk the talk – archbishop

Radio New Zealand |10 October 2018 

The Fiji government should ensure environmental policies at home reflect the climate messages it promotes abroad, Fiji’s Catholic archbishop says.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has been championing the fight against global warming as president of the current UN climate round, the COP23.

But the archbishop, Peter Loy Chong, said the government’s policies needed to be consistent with the proposals it touted during COP23.

Current government policy did too little to protect landowners, the archbishop said.

The government needed to ensure landowners fully understood environmental impacts when negotiating contracts for activities like mining.

“The majority of the people are not aware of the full consequences of mining, logging, stone extraction, black sand mining and how these will impoverish their food bank,” he said.

“It will have an implication on the shores on which they rely for food.”

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Fiji: No short cuts to dealing with community grievances on mining

FCOSS executive director Vani Catanasiga. Picture: FT FILE

The Fiji Times | 29 August, 2018

There are no short cuts or easy solutions to dealing with community grievances and disputes arising from mining or extraction says the Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS).

FCOSS executive director, Vani Catanasiga shared the sentiments after presenting to the UNDP-organised ”Addressing grievances and disputes from the Development Mineral” Capacity Building Workshop in Nadi

Catanasiga who presented on “Free, Prior, Informed Consent – A proactive approach to dealing with community grievances and disputes in extraction”  said while development stakeholders favour  a faster and more efficient approach to dealing with community grievances and disputes, this approach undermined the community’s right to decide on projects that could affect them adversely.

“Working to obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent or FPIC is about involving communities the right way so that development can have a lasting and positive legacy for both communities and companies,” she said.

“FPIC is an intentional process that should avail to affected communities information on government, business or banks that are stakeholders in the project, project details in their preferred language as well as convening community discussions that involve everyone – including women, children, elders, non-indigenous neighboring settlements – to discuss project terms.”

She said using FPIC could be a proactive approach to dealing with community grievances arising from access to and utilisation of natural resources.

“So yes it may seem, a long and sometimes difficult process but ultimately as you mainstream FPIC into your approaches, you indirectly build communities’ sense of ownership into ensuring the success of the project because you have included them,” she said.

Catanasiga said FPIC is emerging as a best practice approach for people centred development around the world because it promotes the inclusion of all communities that will be affected by proposed development projects.

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Fiji landowners query royalties

Luke Rawalai | The Fiji Times | 29 June 2018

WHILE Government has reassured resource owners that they will continue to receive 80 per cent of royalties from the use of their resources, landowners of Nawailevu, Bua, are still querying about funds promised to them for the mining of bauxite on their land.

Nawailevu landowning unit spokesman Waisale Kaidawa said they were still waiting for the royalties promised to them.

Mr Kaidawa said as owners of the land from which bauxite ores were being mined, they were still not clear on when they would receive these royalties.

“It is still not clear with us where these funds are and when it will be released to us,” he said.

“Government, in this year’s budget, needs to hold awareness to us on where this money has gone because we have projects awaiting funding from these royalties.

“It is only fair that resource owners like us get clarification on where this money is being used and how.

“To this day, we are still waiting for word on the Future Generation Funds that we were promised — no word has come to us.”

In his budget announcement last night, Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said 80 per cent of any royalties for any minerals mined from land and the seabed goes back to resource owners.

“Of course as introduced this year, 80 per cent of any royalties for any mineral resources mined on land and any seabed in Fiji goes straight back to resource owners,” he said.

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The Next Gold Mine in Tropical Paradise Obtains $40 Million Financing

Lion One Drill Pad, Tuvatu

Two projects on a mining-friendly tropical island are moving forward, one in the final ramp-up to production and one at a very early stage.

Streetwise Reports  | 12 June 2018

Thoughts of Fiji conjure up the tropics, beaches and sunshine, but the island nation is also noted for its mineral production. The Vatukoula mine, in operation for over 80 years, has produced more than seven million ounces of gold.

Vying to join its ranks on the politically stable and mining friendly island are Lion One Metals Limited  and Thunderstruck Resources Ltd., two companies at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Thunderstruck Resources is an early stage exploration company with an extensive portfolio of properties on Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. The company is conducting exploration activities at its large land package—covering 4% of Viti Levu—of “100% owned high grade zinc, copper and gold assets,” it reported in mid-May. According to Thunderstuck, it is “building on extensive prior results that point to the potential for large mineralized systems.”

At the end of May, Thunderstruck closed an oversubscribed private placement, raising over $200,000, selling 2.2 million units at $0.09 each. Each unit contained one common share and one share purchase warrant, with the option to buy a common share for $0.15 until May 2021.

Lion One’s 100%-owned Tuvatu project is at a much more advanced stage and is on track to put into production Fiji’s next mine. The company just announced a US$40 million debt financing package to develop the mine and build a processing plant for its fully permitted project. The financing is with Sinosteel Equipment & Engineering Co. Ltd. and Baiyin International Investment Inc. Sinosteel will be the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contractor for the project, and Baiyin will be the gold doré offtaker.

The agreement is for a five-year term at a 7.5% interest rate. There will be a principal holiday and capitalized interest for either the earlier of two years from first draw, or three months after achieving commercial production. There also will be a Net Smelter Return (NSR) royalty of 2.25% on the first 350,000 ounces of gold produced. There is also an option to increase the financing by US$10 million.

Analyst Derek Macpherson of Red Cloud Klondike Strike Inc. noted on June 4 that with the debt financing in place, Tuvatu construction is expected to ramp up and views this as “very positive.”

Macpherson also noted that the “PEA (2015) outlines initial capital investment (excluding working capital) for Tuvatu at US$48.6M. With exploitation permits in-hand and C$21.6M (US$16.6M) in cash, the company is well positioned to continue on the path to construction and production.”

Analyst Mike Niehuser of Scarsdale Equities wrote on June 6, “The PEA assumed modest capital costs and efficient mining of high-grade gold resources, resulting in significant cash flow, which may rapidly repay capital and fund mine development and additional exploration of prospective gold targets.”

Niehuser also stated, “We expect that Lion One will announce an updated capital cost budget that should be within expected variances of the PEA. It appears that the facility should be adequate to cover the construction and capital costs with cash on hand. The terms appear to be competitive and do not include hedging or prepayment fees. Lion One continues exploration activities for which we believe could be a long-lived mine.”

Scarsdale Equities maintains a Buy rating and a target price of CA$1.40 on Lion One, which is currently trading at around CA$0.63.

While Lion One has been securing financing for the project, it also has continued exploration activities. Following the release of an off-the-charts surface sample of 502 g/t gold over 0.70 meters in February, on June 7, the company announced that follow-up work has mapped “more than 20 previously undefined mineralized structures at the Jomaki-Ura Creek prospect areas and identified potential geological extensions on the main mineralized zones inside the Tuvatu Mining Lease.”

Stephen Mann, Lion One’s managing director, stated, “In the Tuvatu resource area, approximately half of the 40 veins identified to date have sufficient sample data from drilling to merit inclusion in a resource estimate. We’ve now identified more than 20 mineralized veins at surface in the Jomaki-Ura Creek area where strong multi-element anomalism suggests potential scale and signature comparable and possibly larger than the main resource area at Tuvatu.”

Lion One has about 102 million shares outstanding, 109 million fully diluted. Management owns 22% of the shares and Donald Smith & Co owns 14%, Franklin Precious Metals Fund 9.99% and JP Morgan Asset Management UK 6%.

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