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.”
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.”