Tag Archives: Bua Bauxite mine

Fiji villagers claim mine spill destroying fishing grounds

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

Luke Rawalai | Fiji Times | March 20, 2017

PEOPLE in Nasarawaqa, Bua and those living along the Dreketi River claim the decline in marine resources around the area is due to spillage of waste water from the bauxite mining in Naibulu, Dreketi.

Sasake villager Apisalome Tumuri claimed that the spill off from the mine during heavy rain forced marine life out from the area to the deep sea.

The 52-year-old fisherman claims there had been a lot of changes in their fishing ground since mining began in nearby Naibulu, Dreketi.

Mr Tumuri said fish, crabs and bech-de-mer had begun disappearing from their fishing grounds during the past three years. He said in the past, villagers could pick shellfish and fetch mud crabs from nearby mangroves.

He said they now had to go out into the open sea to get these.

Dreketi resident Losana Lomani said the Dreketi River had turned red last week after heavy rain was experienced in the area.

Ms Lomani said they learnt that the muddy water originated from the mining site and that women in the area found it hard to find freshwater mussels in the river.

XINFA Aurum Exploration Fiji Ltd’s senior officer Sang Lei said the muddy water witnessed by villagers was normal rain run-off from land.

Mr Lei said all waste water from the mine was contained in the sediment pond at the mine and that none had seeped into the waterways as claimed.

Responding to queries, permanent secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources Ministry Malakai Finau said it was normal for the sea to turn muddy during heavy rain.

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Fiji mine villagers to invest $1m

The horizon on the mountain top seen behind Inosi Masivava the head of yavusa maururu of Nadua Village will be the third bauxite mining site in Bua. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

The horizon on the mountain top seen behind Inosi Masivava the head of yavusa maururu of Nadua Village will be the third bauxite mining site in Bua. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

Serafina Silaitoga | The Fiji Times | November 23, 2016

A LARGE sum of the premium payment of $1.8 million for the third bauxite mine in Bua will be invested.

Members of the yavusa Maururu of Nadua Village and landowning unit of the new bauxite mine at Wainunu have agreed to invest most of the funds for their future generations.

Yavusa head Inosi Masivava said they were working with the iTaukei Land Trust Board about these issues.

“We will invest $1m and we have discussed options for investment, but it has to happen because our decisions today will have an impact on our future generations,” he said.

“All 22 members of our yavusa have agreed to this because we know that investing money increases our savings.”

Apart from the investment fund, the yavusa has also set aside $600,000 for improved housing project.

Mr Masivava said a few members had already built, extended and refurbished their houses in the village.

“We could not do this in the past because our income was limited and we could only pay the bills, buy food and take care of other expenses,” he said.

“But now we are seeing a big difference and fast change to our daily living with parents being able to build new toilets and bathrooms.

“It’s encouraging and great to see the positive changes happening within our yavusa, especially with our members.”

Mr Masivava said bauxite mining would not begin anytime soon.

“It will happen on our piece of land, but we have been advised that it will happen later.”

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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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Fiji Minister tells of negative mining effects

xinfa bauxite bua

Luke Rawalai | The Fiji Times | September 12, 2016

OUTGOING Lands Minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa says bauxite mining had negative impacts on natural ecosystems because of failure in monitoring systems.

Speaking during an interview, Mrs Vuniwaqa said negative impacts of bauxite mining included dust emissions and the dirtying of waterways, which needed to be strictly monitored by the Mineral Resources Department.

Mrs Vuniwaqa said since bauxite mining was new the ministry initially found it hard to monitor mining works, adding that it was better with it now.

“It has been a learning project and we have learnt very fast in bauxite mining because of the objections to it,” she said. “The company mining bauxite at the initial site in Bua is now replanting trees after mining, which is part of their licensing conditions. They need to fulfil it before they leave the country.”

Mrs Vuniwaqa said mining at the first site had been completed adding that the mining company had a 20-year lease over the land.

“They mined for seven to eight years and if you go there now you will find it green,” she said. “As per the conditions of the licences they plant things that were there before they began mining and the idea now is to plant pine.”

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Fiji: Law sets ground for mining consent

nickel mine

Luke Rawalai | The Fiji Times | September 8, 2016

THE Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources will only seek the 60 per cent consensus from landowning units (mataqali) for the mining of minerals as required of them by law.

Responding to concerns raised by the Bua Urban Youth (BUY) network on the non-involvement of yavusa (clans) for the procurement of such consensus, the ministry’s deputy secretary Malakai Nalawa said the law was silent on the involvement of clans in the gathering of consensus.

Mr Nalawa said they were obliged by law to approach the mataqali rather than the whole yavusa to obtain 60 per cent consent from its registered members in the Vola ni Kawa Bula (VKB).

“iTaukei land, on which bauxite development is undertaken in Bua, is owned by individual mataqali which constitute the yavusa,” he said.

“However, the respective clan heads are also consulted for their support, in their capacity as the chief, to reinforce the consent of the landowning unit, which are components of their clans.

“Consent of the yavusa will only be sought if in the event the land is owned by the yavusa.”

Mr Nalawa said this meant that the land was owned by all the mataqali registered under that yavusa and therefore 60 per cent consent of the total members of all the mataqali registered under that yavusa, would be required to be procured.

“We, as a Government agency, will always respect our iTaukei institution as it is mandated by law to do so,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a statement BUY said all the appropriate approach to obtaining consent involved consulting everyone who would be impacted including clans who were part of the iTaukei social structure.

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Fiji Ministry clarifies on bauxite mining processes

xinfa bauxite bua

Fiji government tries to claim consent to mining from two chiefs is equivalent to free prior informed consent from ALL the landholders…

Luke Rawalai | The Fiji Times | August 28, 2016

BAUXITE has only been mined at Nawailevu and Naibulu and chiefs from both areas have consented to the project, says Ministry of Land’s deputy secretary Malakai Nalawa.

Mr Nalawa said that hence approval had been given by the two chiefs to the companies.

Responding to outcry from Bua Urban Youth about the need for obtainment of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) from landowners before any mining processes, Mr Nalawa said that this has been obtained.

Meanwhile, BUY representative Vani Catanasiga says that officials must do more than just seeking the chief’s consent as a signal of the community’s approval.

Ms Catanasiga said they needed to prepare dialogue spaces between landowners and companies so that they can discuss on the pros and cons of mining before any decision is reached.

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Govt consultations on experimental seabed mining have failed

resource roulette

Ropate Valemei | The Fiji Times | June 09, 2016

DESPITE Government’s claim that the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources had conducted wide consultations with key stakeholders to formulate a Draft Policy on Deep Sea Mining (DSM), the Government consultations have not included a broad cross section of Fijian civil society, the public, or indigenous and/or coastal communities.

This was revealed in a report by Blue Ocean Law and the Pacific Network on Globalisation on how deep sea mining and inadequate regulatory frameworks imperil the Pacific and its people, which was released early this week.

The report notes that Fiji’s Department of Environment (DOE) estimates that only about 40 per cent of educated people may be aware of DSM, and that coastal users and outlying communities are largely ignorant of what is happening with respect to DSM prospecting; the DOE reiterates the need for comprehensive consultations and awareness raising.

It further states that one commentator notes that the iTaukei Affairs Board, the TLTB, and the provincial and tikina councils — institutions mandated by statute to deliberate and make recommendations on developmental and other issues that impact the welfare, wellbeing, and good governance of the iTaukei or the indigenous peoples of Fiji — have not been seriously consulted regarding the development of a DSM framework.

With respect to the 2013 mining decree, it adds the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources reportedly organised a review of the law but did not include landowners or significant civil society organisations representation in its consultations and would have proceeded with finalising the law if not for an online petition protesting the lack of consultation.

Other consultations organised by the MRD in the past have been called off on short notice.

In a report staff at the Department of Mineral Resources recognises the need to both consult with and obtain consent from landowners and those communities located closest to potential DSM sites, but whether this will actually be done in the event of actual DSM remains to be seen.

“Awareness of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) throughout indigenous and local communities in Fiji is limited, and it appears that the government does not require FPIC from operators in its existing onshore mines.”

In existing cases involving terrestrial mining, it says there has been no FPIC, and even meaningful consultation is often lacking.

For instance, the mineral prospecting that has been going on in Namosi for more than 40 years, involving more than 15 companies, many landowners have repeatedly expressed opposition to mining, withholding their consent.

“Instead of heeding these clear expressions, mining companies have approached chiefs of local villages, who are not landowners, and paid them, or in some cases directly employed them, in order to gain their consent to mining on what, essentially, is not their land.”

In the case of the Bua bauxite mine, it states the agreement with the community was signed and negotiated by a third party hired by the Government, without any legal advice provided to the community; benefits from this mine are restricted to a small number of individual landowners, while the larger community receives nothing, a situation bound to create conflict as the whole community suffers the environmental impacts of the mine.

The report further note that the Tikina Namosi Landowner Committee (TNLC) notes that bribes occur at multiple stages of the process, from the local level up the ministerial chain; the putative “consent” obtained from individuals who have been paid by mining companies, in addition to being illegal under Fiji’s Constitution, does not equate to the FPIC of indigenous peoples or landowners.

In some cases, government officials have advised that 100 per cent of landowners surveyed expressed support for mining in Namosi; however, a survey conducted by the TNLC revealed that more than 90 per cent of the community (around 984 surveyed individuals and landowners) actually opposed prospecting.

Although the landowner system does necessitate more extensive consultation measures than other jurisdictions, the report notes that obtaining legitimate FPIC in Fiji is challenging.

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