The Ministry of Information (January 10): Bauxite mining at Nawailevu in Bua is expected to start by March according to the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources.
Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama designated to the Land Bank the first parcel of native land earmarked for bauxite mining in the area.
This has started a chain of processes that will allow the Director of Lands to issue a surface lease to mine investors Aurum Exploration (Fiji) Limited next week.
A mining lease is expected to be issued in March. The director’s powers are stipulated in the Land Use Decree of 2010.
Acting Permanent Secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources Mr Filimone Kau said the surface lease will give Aurum Exploration (Fiji) Ltd access and exclusive possession to the land.
“They cannot mine but they can start some preliminary work like building a campsite etc access, bridges, and infrastructure,” he said. “They can only mine after being issued with a mining lease which will be around March this year,” Mr Kau added.
In addition, all these lands are also free from all encumbrances including Fiji Pine partially surrendering its lease and the reverting of legal rights over land to native landowners from the Mataqali Nalutu, Mataqali Noro and Mataqali Naicobo.
The site proposed for mining was previously leased by Fiji Pine Limited and covered under pine trees. Aurum Exploration Fiji (Ltd) paid Fiji Pine $1m for the partial surrender of their lease and subsequent large scale harvest of pine trees to allow for mining works.
“This is a good beginning for the Ministry in facilitating investment for the betterment of the nation as a whole,” Mr Kau said.
Government’s land reform initiative was borne out of Pillar 6 of the Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress and is meant to address all critical issues pertaining to land which will provide the platform for the nation to progress economically and socially.