Timoci Vula | The Fiji Times
THERE is no quota on the amount of ore that can be extracted by the bauxite mining company at Nawailevu in Bua, or any other mining company for that matter.
And as Lands and Mineral Resources Minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa explained in Parliament yesterday, when mining leases are given, it does not impose a quota.
She added she did not know of any other jurisdiction that imposed a quota on the extraction of ore.
She made these comments in response to questions raised by Opposition member Mosese Bulitavu.
Mr Bulitavu questioned the approved quantity of bauxite ore Aurum Exploration (Fiji) Ltd was allowed to extract; the total anticipated dollar value and the payments to landowners.
While she noted the cost per tonne of bauxite extracted was at $US80 ($F162) per tonne, Mrs Vuniwaqa said the total anticipated value was yet to be determined as they awaited a confirmed amount from the pre-mining estimate carried out prior to mining.
“The ministry and the company are currently working together to reach the amount as close as possible of the real amount of extraction of bauxite that was done.”
“So at this date, there is no firm conclusion to that study,” Ms Vuniwaqa said.
“Once that study has been carried out properly, the company and Government will be looking at tally records done throughout the extraction to determine this amount. It is only then that we can state for certain what the value was.”
Mr Bulitavu posed a supplementary question where he quoted a third party figure from Customs of 1,287,843.7 tonnes of soil and rock being extracted and shipped out of Fiji as opposed to the maximum one million tonnes allowed under the memorandum of lease.
Ms Vuniwaqa said the amount in the lease were anticipated amounts, estimates made prior to the starting of the lease.
“Just to rationalise the question madam Speaker, how can we tell how much ore is in the ground. The lease was signed prior to the mining and anticipated estimate is in that agreement.
“Government and the company, with the landowners, who are part of the tally team, they are working together now to establish as closely as possible the exact amount that was extracted.”
On the question of royalty payments, Ms Vuniwaqa said of the three royalties payable to landowners – rock, soil and ore – Government had paid landowners rock royalty.
For the soil royalty, she said, Government, Aurum Exploration and the landowners were working to establish, as closely as possible, the amount of bauxite, out of which that calculation would also throw out the amount of soil that is with the bauxite.
She said once that was determined, the soil royalty could then be calculated.
“The third royalty is the ore royalty. This is a new inclusion in Section 30 of the Constitution. Under Section 30, Government is now mandated to give a fair share of that royalty to landowners and Government will do that.
“At the moment, those royalties payable are being held in trust by the Mineral Resources department. The landowners will be consulted together with all Fijians, public consultations will be carried out before we reach a formula on what a fair share is.”
Ms Vuniwaqa said payments yet to be accessed by the landowners would be the Future Generation Fund and royalties in relation to the extraction.
“There are certain issues in relation to the setting up of trust funds in the relevant mataqali – relevant trustee issues which we are currently working through with the trustees to sort that out before the mataqali will be able to access those funds.
In November last year, Aurum Exploration shipped 1.2 million tonnes of bauxite to China.
- For the Nawailevu south mine – extraction has finished and the mine is going through a rehabilitation program;
- The premium and the rent payable to date for the surface lease have been paid;
- The access to the mining site and the camp site – lease and premium have been paid;
- The quarry and stockpile site – lease and premium have been paid;
- Fishing rights compensation for the jetty has been paid;
- Rock royalty to the mataqali Nalutu has been paid.
- Nawailevu South Mine – Presently undergoing operations;
- Premium and rent payable to date have been paid; and
- Access lease and rent payable to date have been paid.
[Source: Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources]