Category Archives: Fiji

Villagers fret over river gravel extraction

A digger works on the bank of Nakorotari River yesterday.

Luke Rawalai | The Fiji Times | July 04, 2017

VILLAGERS of Matalolo outside Labasa Town raised their concerns on the procedures for gravel extraction being carried out along the Nakorotari River bank.

A member of the public, Ropate Rakuro, told this newspaper that villagers were concerned with gravel extraction procedures because machines were digging soil along the river banks, instead of extracting rocks from the riverbed.

“It is a worry because this can cause soil erosion on the river banks during the wet season,” he said. “This is the problem when we do not have enough monitoring done on companies working along the river banks and they take advantage of their licence conditions because there is no one to monitor them. Something needs to be done to address this issue and authorities need to look into the concerns raised.”

Suweni district representative Po­a­sa Vocea said there were more than six companies extracting gravel along the Nakorotari River.

Responding to Mr Vocea’s concerns during Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s tour of the Northern Division recently, Lands and Mineral Resources Ministry’s permanent secretary Malakai Finau admitted there was not enough done to monitor gravel extraction.

Mr Finau said they recently set up an environment section within their department that would monitor these extraction and mining works.

The ministry’s director Mineral Department, Dr Raijeli Ta­ga, said it was not mandatory for gravel to be extracted from the riverbed but from where a proper licence had been given. Dr Taga said the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources issued licences only for any extraction on State land or from the river.

“TLTB gives licences for extraction on Native land and communities near rivers that have gravel deposits need to know that they can assist to monitor and that they should have been consulted during the EIA process,” she said.


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Fiji: No plans for deep sea mining

Felix Chaudhary | The Fiji Times |  June 28, 2017

SEABED deep sea mineral mining will not be conducted in waters around Fiji in the near future, says Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources permanent secretary Malakai Finau.

“The costs involved are absolutely huge,” he said.

“Current exploration interest is in its very early or preliminary stages, we haven’t even reached the advanced stages as yet.

“Seabed resource exploration requires a lot of resources. One of the biggest costs is the need to engage a state-of-the-art marine research vessel.

“Getting exploratory work done on land is very expensive, so you can imagine what it’s like when you are attempting to do this out at sea.”

Meanwhile, a report by the World Bank released in April last year titled “Precautionary Management of Deep Sea Mining Potential”, called on Pacific Island countries to be extra vigilant and cautious over any plans for seabed mining.

The report said any Pacific country supporting or considering deep sea mining activities must proceed with a high degree of caution to avoid irreversible damage to ecosystems.

The World Bank report also emphasised the need for strong governance measures to ensure that appropriate social and environmental safeguards were in place.

Pacific Island countries that have granted permits for deep sea mining exploration include Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. The Cook Islands has advanced its efforts and done a minerals exploration tender process.

Mr Finau is chairing the Science Technology and Resources (STAR) Network’s 2017 conference at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi.

The conference is supported by the Geoscience Division of the Pacific Community and sponsored by Standard Concrete Industries (Fiji), XINFA Mines (Fiji) and the UNDP neglected development minerals project with support also from the Circum-Pacific Council.

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Finau: Fiji bauxite shipments reduced

Shalend Prasad points at a spillage from the bauxite mine alleged by members of the public to be waste water from the sediment ponds. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

Luke Rawalai | The Fiji Times | June 26, 2017

THE number of bauxite shipments that leave the shores of Bua is determined by a lot of factors and chief among them is the global market price of the mineral.

Ministry of Land and Mineral Resources permanent secretary Malakai Finau told this newspaper that shipments had been reduced lately because of the drop in world prices for bauxite.

Mr Finau said there were other factors that affected the shipments of bauxite.

“The other factor that affects the amount of shipments that is exported to China is related to production and the setup of the mine,” he said.

“Because of the prevailing prices of the mineral, the company only sells when the price is right or when they stock the right amount of bauxite to be exported.

“There are other mining issues like the recent allegations of spillage and mining has to be stopped until these issues are addressed.

“As we speak, we have stockpiles of bauxite in the Naviqiri facility awaiting shipment.”

Earlier this month, director mineral development of the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources Dr Reijeli Taga said the first shipment of bauxite this year left Fiji’s shores on March 3.

She revealed that 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, raking in revenue of $2.6 million.

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Fiji miners urged to protect environment

The sediment pond at the XINFA Bauxite mine in Naibulu, Dreketi which is said to have spilled waste water. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

Radio New Zealand | June 7, 2017

Quarry Operators and miners in Fiji have been urged to protect the environment.

The message was relayed to mining professionals at a workshop in Pacific Harbour by the permanent secretary for lands and mineral resources, Malakai Finau.

Mr Finau said the extractive industry, landowners and regulators all need to lift their game to protect Fiji’s pristine environment.

He said in the past some operations had not been good enough with regards to protection of water courses, rivers and streams

“Whilst we all need and would benefit for the extraction of these materials for the construction of better roads and other infrastructure and also as part of modernizing our infrastructure, increasing economic activity for the Mining and Quarrying Sector, we should be also mindful of the environment we operate in and be champions of protecting it as well,” Mr Finau said.

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$50.6m in six years for Fiji from bauxite

Luke Rawalai | The Fiji Times | June 07, 2017

FIJI has earned a total revenue of $50.6 million since bauxite mining began in Nawailevu, Bua six years ago.

Responding to questions from this newspaper, Mineral Resources Department acting director Dr Raijeli Taga said the revenue was derived from 23 shipments of the mineral.

Dr Taga said the shipments consisted of soil containing bauxite which was further processed and separated in processing plants in China.

“The total mass exported was 1,191,530 dry metric tonnes,” she said.

“In total the exact amount of revenue derived from the bauxite stands at $50,653,983.

“The value of each shipment was in excess of $1.5 million.”

Dr Taga said only one shipment of bauxite left Fiji’s shores in 2016 bound for China.

“The average annual shipments varied from one to four respective years,” she said.

Responding to questions on how much of the revenue had been paid to resource owners, Ms Taga said the mining company would be in a better position to answer this question since they would provide details of employment and other social corporate responsibilities.

“However, please be advised that the royalty derived from these exports had been deposited to the Government,” she said. “Some of the returns of this investment so far include employment, compensation, social assistance and community project assistance.”

Earlier, Dr Taga revealed to this newspaper that $2.8 million in revenue was derived from the first shipment of bauxite this year.

However, when contacted for a comment yesterday, XINFA Aurum Exploration Fiji Ltd manager Sireli Dagaga said the Mineral Resources Department would be in a better position to comment.

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$2.8m for Fiji from bauxite

Luke Rawalai | The Fiji Times | June 01, 2017

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.

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Iron mine exploring starts in Fiji

Kalesi Mele | The Fiji Times | May 30, 2017

AMEX Resources is exploring the sandbanks of the delta at the mouth of the Ba River between Raviravi and Vatutavui from its Sorokoba field base for iron sand.

Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya said this yesterday during the handover ceremony of the wharf site to Chinese company First Harbour Consultants for the construction of a new wharf and ship-loading infrastructure.

“Not only will the project boost our economy and open up employment opportunities; it is also expected to complement Government’s efforts to dredge the Ba Delta, thereby reducing the impacts of flooding during wet weather and we all know the damaging effects of a river bursting its banks,” he said.

“This is undoubtedly good news for those living along the Ba Delta but there is also better news for the nation. Now more so than ever ladies and gentlemen, investor confidence in Fiji has never been higher. Despite Fiji’s recent experience with devastating natural disasters, the outlook on our economic activity is encouragingly expected to continue growing.”

Iron sand is a component used to create steel and is popular and in demand among the growing economies of the world.

“We have healthy deposits of it here in Fiji, but we must carefully consider all aspects of mining for such a resource, including its environmental impacts before the mining lease is granted. Albeit given the lease three years ago, I am happy to mention that Amex has continued to meet the compliance requirements, so Government is willing to partner with them for mutual gain, in our respect, economic returns and investment and in Amex’s case, a steady supply of this sought after mineral.”

This new wharf and ship-loading facility will include a berth, a barge unloading facility, a washing plant, a stockpile area, ship-loading infrastructure, as well as workshops and offices.

The construction of the facility together with the purchase of a specialised marine fleet represents a $180-million investment. This is in addition to the $25m the company had already spent on exploration and other associated works leading up to this.

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