Tag Archives: Dome Gold Mines

Sand Mining Plan At Sigatoka Rive Row Erupts

Australian company defends position against the petition, to be tabled in Parliament, to stop Sigatoka River project

Fonua Talei | Fiji Sun | 12 Feb 2020

An Australian mining company has strongly defended its position against a petition to stop the issue of licence to mine sand at the Sigatoka River.

The petition is being organised by SODELPA Opposition MP Viliame Gavoka, who has tabled it for Parliament debate next week. It claims residents of riverbank communities may be:

  • forced to leave their homes because the mining would negatively affect their livelihood.
  • deprived of their ancestral fishing ground as a result of destruction to their environment.

But Garry Lowder, chairman of Dome Gold Mines Limited, said: “If our project proceeds at Sigatoka it will have substantial environmental benefits, including significant mitigation of the chronic flooding that occurs regularly in the Sigatoka River, and revitalisation of the river, which is currently choked with sand.

“The mine, if it proceeds, would very much enhance local employment opportunities and provide a substantial boost to economic activity across the Sigatoka area”

Mr Lowder said the company operated in Fiji on a Special Prospecting Licence 1451 issued by the Fijian Government with strict terms and conditions.

He also said they had fully complied with the terms of the licence and exercise industry best practices in all of their activities.

He said: “We are acutely aware of the need to protect the environment and engage with the local community and we routinely exceed our statutory obligations on both of those matters.”

Mr Gavoka hopes the Speaker of Parliament, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, will nominate a committee to carry out an inquiry.

He said he had collected about 900 signatures. The proposed mining area covers 2522.69 hectares on the plains at the mouth of the river, the river itself and an area offshore.

The petition raises concerns about plans by the company to mine magnetite, a source of iron, for making steel.

Mr Gavoka claimed that in preparation for the Parliament sittings from February 17 21, he had consulted with the landowning units in the Nadroga/Navosa Province particularly the people of the Tikina ‘o Nasigatoka and the surrounding riverbank communities.

“The support has been overwhelming. If I had more time, I could have got thousands of signatures, but I needed to table it quickly in February because mining is scheduled to commence in 2021 and time is of the essence,” Mr Gavoka said.

“These villages are indicating their concern, they are my people, my relatives and also the settlements around the area like Kulukulu.

“I want the inquiry to happen right away. Once the petition is tabled in Parliament, the Speaker will then nominate a committee to carry out an inquiry,” the SODELPA MP said.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Fiji, Human rights

Drilling programs to increase mining activity in Fiji

Aqela Susu | The Fiji Times | March 14, 2018

Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya says five extensive drilling programs have been proposed by local mining companies which will increase exploration activities.

In his ministerial statement to Parliament on Monday, Mr Koya confirmed the five companies are Thunderstruck Company in Serua, Vatukoula Gold Mines Ltd in Vatukoula, Dome Mines on Ono Island in Kadavu, Kalo Exploration in Cirianiu and Matai Holdings Ltd at Udu Point on Vanua Levu.

“The Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited (VGML), our major gold-mining company, will continue to undertake mining exploration activities to ensure minable resources are available for its mining operation,” he said.

“The iron sand mining project for Ba delta is at its development state as the tenement holder Amex Resources Limited is currently developing its loading port facility in Lautoka at a total investment of $30 million (USD).

“Lion One Limited, as the holder of Tuvatu Mining lease, is also at its developing stages with late 2018 as a proposed date of production. The company is focusing on stabilising the site to set up its mine mill and is working with the ministry as well as other respective stakeholders to ensure mining commences as agreed.”

Mr Koya said the bauxite mining in the Northern Division was progressing well and in a sustainable fashion.

He also confirmed that mining operations at Nawailevu on Vanua Levu have ceased because of the exhaustion of bauxite ore on site.

“This mining licence to XINFA Aurum is currently under rehabilitation and is monitored by the ministry on a monthly basis.”

1 Comment

Filed under Papua New Guinea

Why is Fiji selling out its coastlines?

The Sigatoka River Valley. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A mining project at the mouth of Fiji’s second biggest river undermines the government’s stated commitment to green development.

Kate Wheeling | Pacific Standard | 21 November 2017

Some years back, Angie Lalabalavu’s grandson dipped a fishing net into a hidden pool he discovered in the stretch of shoreline in front of her house on Fiji’s Viti Levu island, right where the Sigatoka River meets the Pacific Ocean. When he pulled it out, the net was crawling with hundreds of mud crabs. They picked out the very biggest and threw the rest back, and the family frequently harvested dinners from the pool.

Now the pool is gone, and the crabs with it, and Lalabalavu doesn’t think they’ll ever come back.”This place was full of fish, crabs, and prawns,” the 60-year-old says, gesturing to the break in the tree line. In earlier years, she would sit on a wooden bench beneath an arch of branches, where she would watch the waves meet the river’s mouth across a vast swath of sandy beach; now the grass of her lawn drops steeply down to a swampy area. “Everything has disappeared,” she says.

Six months ago, a company called China Railway First Group began dredging at the mouth of the Sigatoka River, pulling silt and sand up from its shallow bottom and dumping it along the eastern bank in front of Lalabalavu’s home. The crab-stocked pool her grandson discovered was buried by the project, and the sandy shoreline in front of her home was replaced with mud. The area is now largely devoid of life, save for the mosquitoes and sandflies that gravitate to the still waters and now torment her family like never before.

By the time the Sigatoka River Dredging Project is done, China Railway will have pulled over 1.2 million cubic meters of silt from the river bottom between its mouth and the Sigatoka Bridge, just over two miles upstream—all in the name of flood prevention. But development along the Sigatoka River won’t end there.

Dome Gold Mines, an Australian mining company, has an exploration license to mine the river mouth for sand laced with magnetite—a source of iron. If the company ultimately receives a full permit to begin dredge-mining in the region, they’ll pull even more material from the bottom of the river and its banks, and from sand deposits on Koroua Island, a tract of incredibly valuable agricultural land for the village of Vunavutu.

The company has promised that the dredge-mining will both create jobs and further help to prevent flooding. Framed as a win-win, support for the projects was initially very high. It’s a scenario that’s all too common around the world: Questionable projects are sold to locals through a mix of misinformation and foreign investment.

But now, the indigenous communities, known in Fiji as the I-Taukei, don’t want either the dredging or the mining projects to move forward. Their connection to the land and their desire to protect it, they say, is far more important than any potential income mining might bring to the communities, and they no longer believe that dredging alone will prevent future floods.

“People have to remember, the river has always flooded,” says Tristen Pearce, a geographer at Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast, and co-author of a recent report that looked at the human impact of development on the Sigatoka River. “That’s why it’s such fertile land.” Some 80 percent of Fiji’s vegetables are produced within the fertile river valley, which is known as the “Salad Bowl” of Fiji. But thanks to climate change, flooding has been getting worse. Long bouts of heavy rain and the floods that have always followed are becoming both more frequent and more severe.

And dredging is one of Fiji’s top flood-mitigation strategies, according to Inia Seruiratu, Fiji’s minister for Agriculture, Rural & Maritime Development, and National Disaster Management. “Over the years, [dredging] has proved to be a sound investment in disaster mitigation through the reduction in impact of flooding in the low lying areas of Fiji,” he wrote in February of 2017.

The initial Environmental Impact Assessment, which was finalized in 2012, stated that dredging would benefit the communities along the river by reducing flooding, and that any impacts to the river or the marine life inside it would be “minimal or temporary in nature.” According to community surveys conducted as part of the EIA, support for the dredging project was “overwhelming.” But today, many members of the indigenous community say that they were not properly consulted at best, and purposefully misled at worst.

“When the dredging came, with the information we were given, we had to say yes,” says Lanieta Matavesi, the spirited 72-year-old head of the indigenous women’s association for the province of Nadroga-Navosa, where Sigatoka is located, which has some 10,000 members. “We were told, ‘This will help with all the flooding.'”

The trouble is, according to Pearce, the idea that dredging can solve flooding is false. Even if a river is widened and deepened through dredging, its capacity will never match that of its catchment—the land area where rain or meltwater collects and drains into the river. It’s like trying to squeeze a swimming pool’s worth of water into a bathtub; a slightly bigger bathtub still won’t hold it all. What dredging will do, Pearce says, is devastate the ecosystem that the indigenous communities in Sigatoka depend on for both subsistence and income.

“All the scientific literature has clearly documented the negative effects of dredging in a river estuary on the ecosystem as well as the ecosystem services,” Pearce says. “If you dredge an estuary, you’re looking at between 100 and 200 years before it recovers.”

If officials in Fiji were really concerned about mitigating future flooding in Sigatoka, they should be looking upriver, Pearce says. Poor land-management practices—like cultivating crops right up against the river bank—have increased the amount of sediment in its waters, which builds up at the river mouth and increases the risk of flooding. Indeed, a 2016 study found that, in Fiji, “green” flood management techniques such as replanting along rivers and in flood zones were more cost-effective in preventing flood damage than dredging.

Pearce and his colleagues interviewed 31 villagers from five villages and one settlement along the river. They found that the Sigatoka River was a critical source of diet staples like fish, crabs, and freshwater mussels for every single one of them. Over half of those surveyed had their primary agricultural land on Koroua Island.

A group of young boys hanging out near the Sigatoka River. (Photo: John Trif/Flickr)

Government officials have tried to assure the communities that the EIA shows that dredging will have no significant effects on the river ecosystems or marine life, but Matavesi says that the indigenous community members are not convinced that an EIA was even completed. “Even if they did it, we have not been shown,” she says.

And already Lalabalavu has seen the negative impacts that dredging can have on her family’s primary food source. “I put my net out here and not one fish, not even one crab stuck in the net,” she says. “They’re all gone, they were all sucked out.” Saltwater is creeping farther up the river now, driving out the freshwater clams that the villagers upriver have long harvested. The river mouth has always been a nursery for bull sharks, but tiger sharks have been spotted further up the river than ever before, Lalabalavu says; she won’t let her grandchildren into the water anymore because of them.

Pearce and his colleagues found that dredging threatens more than just food security. “What we see is that this river is a mosaic of human uses,” Pearce says. “We all knew that people were fishing and getting shellfish from it, but what I didn’t know was the spirituality that’s connected to the river.” There’s a pond on the eastern side of the river mouth, for example, where the water is always clear. This sacred site is called Wai Ni Kutu, and it’s where the spirits of those who have died stop to bath themselves before crossing over to the next world.

None of these threats were discussed with the community, according to Matavesi. “There was no consultation, there was no awareness,” Matavesi says. “They have to tell us why they’re doing dredging; what are the advantages and what are the disadvantages? But many times, when they come for mining or dredging, they just talk about the advantages, to them and to us.”

The damage that’s been done by the dredging so far, Pearce says, is small compared to the damage that could be done if dredge-mining begins in earnest. “There is still the opportunity to have an alternative future,” he says—as long as Fiji’s government fulfills its promise not to allow development at the expense of the environment.

Frank Bainimarama, Fiji’s prime minister and the current president of COP23, has repeatedly declared his country’s dedication to “green growth.”

“We do not believe that putting the health of our environment first in any way jeopardizes our development. On the contrary, maintaining the pristine quality of our natural surroundings is front and center of every development decision we make,” Bainimarama said at the Ocean’s Conference in June.

“[N]o development on land or at sea in Fiji takes place if there is any risk to the environment,” he went on. “It is a central tenet of our Green Growth Framework and national development plans. And we are very proud to have drawn this responsible line in the sand.”

In the Fiji pavilion at COP23 in Bonn, Germany, Pearce says that he marveled at a massive photo of the pristine Sigatoka River estuary, before the dredging began. “It could be stopped,” he says of the dredging and mining projects. “This could be an example where the rights of the indigenous people prevail … this could be the precedent setter.”

The village of Vunavutu, where Matavesi is from, has the rights to the land on Koroua Island, and the village has never consented to mining activities—exploratory or otherwise—on the island, which is home to three ancestral sites. They even sent a letter saying as much to Fiji’s prime minister. “We the landowning unit of Korea Island hereby close all mining operations on Koroua Island,” the letter begins. “The decision was hard as this mining venture would have been a source of wealth for our landowning unit. However we believe that these sites are of great significance to us and preserving them would benefit our future descendants as they will be able to understand their ancestral roots.”

(Photo: Vunavutu Village)

All Matavesi is asking for now is that the government consult properly with the indigenous community before any more damage is done.

“When we met with everybody, they did not understand dredging, they were confused about what dredging meant,” Pearce says of his conversations with the community. “When they fully grasped what the outcomes would be, they unanimously said, ‘This cannot happen.'”

The exploration permit, Pearce says, snuck through “under the nose” of the indigenous community and their representatives in Fiji’s government. “But,” he says, “when that mining company files the full permit, they’ll feel the full power of I-Taukei. If it’s going to destroy the environment … it’s a no-go.”

Lalabalavu’s ancestors have lived on this land for millennia, and she has lived in this house overlooking the river mouth for all 60 years of her life. Her father built this modest home for her mother, who used to sleep on the beach right in front of it as a little girl. Her mother, now 87, runs a motel in a nearby town along Fiji’s Coral Coast.

“You know what she told me? ‘I will never come and see the river mouth like this,'” Lalabalavu says. Choking up, she pauses briefly, lifting a hand up to her mouth as she braces to continue. “‘I want to see it and recognize it as it was when I was born and grew up here.’ She is so brokenhearted.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Fiji, Human rights

Company optimistic sand mining on Fiji’s Sigatoka River will be approved

Sigatoka River, Fiji. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Sigatoka River, Fiji. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Radio New Zealand | 11 November 2016

An Australian mining company says it’s very optimistic it will get the green light to mine sand along Fiji’s Sigatoka River.

Dome Gold Mines is seeking a mining lease from the government for the ironsands project.

It’s rejecting concerns the mining could pose a threat to the environment or the nearby Sand Dune National Park, which contains an important Lapita archaeological site.

The company’s chief executive Jack McCarthy said the project could bring a hundred jobs and environmental benefits.

“The river itself being so choked would benefit by being deepened, and the Government of Fiji I believe is interested in that happening and that would be for flood mitigation purposes,” he said.

“But in addition to that it would open the river up for commercial and pleasure craft that currently can not enter the river because it’s too shallow.”

Jack McCarthy said it would be two years before mining would get underway after the project is approved.

Sand mining in Fiji promises environmental and economy benefits

Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand | 11 November 2016

An Australian mining company is dismissing concerns about its proposal to mine sand along the Sigatoka River in Fiji.

Dome Gold Mines says it’s waiting for the government to approve a mining lease for the Ironsands Project.

Concerns have been raised about the effect it could have on the environment and the nearby Sand Dunes National Park, which contains an important Lapita archaeological site.

But the company’s chief executive Jack McCarthy told Jo O’Brien that rather than causing harm, the project will bring economic and environmental benefits

JACK MCCARTHY: The sand deposits formed over thousands of years and one of the minerals it contains is magnetite which is used for iron ore production. But during the development of the project we realised that the river itself being so choked would benefit by being deepened and the Government of Fiji I believe is interested in that happening and that would be for flood mitigation purposes but in addition to that it would open the river up for commercial and pleasure craft that currently can not enter the river because it’s too shallow, and possibly open the river for the transport of goods from the Sigatoka River Valley. Our project would result in production of excess sand and excess gravel and magnetite as a concentrate, which is used in the steel-making process, and also a non-magnetic heavy mineral product which we would like to look to market. It would not involve the use of any chemicals. It’s basically a situation where you dig the material up using a dredge and that’s pumped through a processing plant and only is water is used in the processing plant.

JO O’BRIEN: What benefits would you see this project bringing for the local people and the local economy?

JMC: Aside from the things I mentioned with regard to the river, which would improve water quality and fish stocks there would be quite a number of jobs created locally, and clearly that would have a commercial impact in the local community and the local economy.

JOB: Would you have an idea of how many jobs?

JMC: About 100 permanent jobs created.

JOB: You mentioned water quality, there have been some concerns about the environmental impact of the project. Are there any issues there for people to be concerned about?

JMC: No I think the concerns are probably based on a lack of understanding. Our feedback with the community is that the river itself presents a danger to them for flooding. But no there wouldn’t be any negative environmental impact, if there is any environmental impact it’s going to be positive. I mean deepening the river provides a much larger volume of water in which fish stocks can live. It will improve the water quality itself in that tidal area because the water flow will be able to get in and out of the river more easily. It should improve and allow access to fishing.

JOB: And you mentioned the Sand Dunes National Park, there have been some fears about the impact it could have on that area, a heritage area. What’s your response to that?

JMC: There’s no impact whatsoever. The park boundary is well established. Our operations are well outside the park boundary.

JOB: So there’s no danger to the sand dunes or the archaeological site there?

JMC: No those dunes are not remotely connected to what we are trying to do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Fiji

Concern over Fiji river mining


Felix Chaudhary | The Fiji Times | October 18, 2016

DESPITE assurances by the parent company of a mining project near the mouth of the Sigatoka River that environment impacts would be minimal, some residents remain concerned.

Robert Kennedy, a member of the Western Division development committee said people needed to understand all the implications of the proposed project by Magma Mines Ltd, a subsidiary of Australian company, Dome Gold Mines.

“I was there when this iron-sand mining project was first suggested and I had expressed reservations because of the possible implications to tourism properties and historical sites,” he said.

Mr Kennedy is also the owner and operator of Sandy Beach Cottages at Korotogo near Sigatoka.

“My understanding is that once the heavy minerals are taken out of the sand, the residual sand becomes lighter and it will float and affect reef area and coral around the river mouth and out to sea.”

Magma Mines Ltd also plans to conduct drilling work on Korura Island near the mouth of the Sigatoka River.

Mr Kennedy said the island was considered historically significant because of the number of prominent citizens who were buried there.

“These are some of the early Europeans and other people who contributed significantly to the establishment and development of Sigatoka and it would be a real shame if mining work is allowed on the island.

“I would urge all the authorities concerned and the people of Sigatoka to reconsider allowing mining of the river because of the impact on the environment and also on historic Korura Island.”

Mineral Resources director Raijeli Taga said the Department of Environment had given the project the go-ahead after completion of the environment impact assessment carried out by an independent organisation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Fiji

Dome Gold Mines advances Fiji iron sands with environmental nod

Proactive Investors

Dome Gold Mines is set to move its Sigatoka iron sands project in Fiji into a mine permitting phase after securing a critical environmental clearance from the local government.
The Fiji Department of Environment has approved Sigatoka’s environmental impact assessment, paving the way for the submission of a mining lease application, which Dome is moving quickly to finalise.
The approvals milestone follows a number of recent development advancements at the site, including a tenement renewal for a further three years and a chemical analysis which indicated Sigatoka material was suitable for industrial use.
The Sigatoka inventory totals 131.6 million tonnes, including 25 million tonnes of resources in the indicated category grading 11.6% heavy minerals (HM) at Sigatoka River and inferred resources of 100.7 million tonnes at 17% HM in the onshore Kulukulu prospect.
The mineralisation is easily accessible and mining is expected to employ low-cost dredging methods commonly used in the mineral sands mining industry.
The magnetite and other heavy minerals of value are recovered as concentrates by various combinations of gravity, electrostatic and magnetic processes that are already widely used in the mineral sands industry.
Once a definitive feasibility study has confirmed the deposit to be economic to mine, development and concentrate production is expected to occur quickly.
Dome declared a cash position of $2.25 million as of the end of June after raising $3.26 million in capital over the June quarter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiji, Mine construction

Dome Gold Mines’ trading at 50% premium to IPO, Fiji gold, copper, iron ore

John Phillips | Proactive Investors

Dome Gold Mines‘ shares have been on a tear since listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in late October 2013.

Dome’s value has increased by 50% since listing, which is an achievement in the recent difficult markets for junior explorers.

The company’s share price closed at its all-time-high of $0.30 yesterday, providing investors from the Initial Public Offering a handy paper gain, as the prospectus offered stock at $0.20.

Dome has a unique focus on the Fijian gold, copper and iron ore sector, and holds a project which has potential to move rapidly towards feasibility and development during 2014-15.

Importantly the company is well supported by international investors, who have contributed over $8 million to date.

Dome has an experienced board with Dr Garry Lowder serving as a chairman and non-executive director.

Lowder has playing key roles in the discovery of several mineral deposits, including the North Parkes copper, Cowal gold and Conrad silver deposits in NSW, the Paddington gold and Wodgina tantalum deposits in WA and the North Sulawesi porphyry copper deposits in Indonesia.

Drilling underway

In late-2013 Dome kicked off a new drilling program at its Nasivi Delta iron sand project to extend the onshore drill coverage to the northwest where the iron sand was most developed in previous drilling.

Once the 20 hole program totalling 600 metres across the western channel of the Nasivi River is completed, the company plans to test the offshore part of the delta, where Nasivi River sediment exists under shallow water.

The offshore part of the program is expected to start early in 2014 and take several months to complete.

Dome expects early results from the program to be available during February 2014.

Nasivi Delta is a mineral sand project containing abundant heavy metals including magnetite and gold. The company is targeting production to begin within two years by using conventional dredging.

Its other projects in Fiji are the Kadavu epithermal gold project, which bears similarities to the Emperor Gold Mine at Vatukoula, and the Nadrau porphyry copper-gold project, which may be like that at the nearby Namosi copper-gold porphyry deposit.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiji, Financial returns