Analysis: Major Boost For All Landowners

Landmark move as 80pc of mining royalties now destined for resource owners and Govt keeps 20pc. The landmark move to give landown­ers 80 per cent of mining royalties is a
18 May 2018 11:01
Analysis: Major Boost For All Landowners

Landmark move as 80pc of mining royalties now destined for resource owners and Govt keeps 20pc.

The landmark move to give landown­ers 80 per cent of mining royalties is a major boost to the recipients.

It’s the first time they will receive the royalties – 80 per cent to them and Govern­ment retains 20 per cent.

Previously Government kept the whole amount because the law says the landown­ers own the top soil while minerals under­neath were owned by the State.

Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum announced in Parliament that about $1 million would be paid from the Trust to the landowners.

This has been made possible after the Fare Share of Mineral Royalties Bill was passed and enacted in Parliament on Wednesday night.

Bua landowners, in particular, will cele­brate this significant development because since 2015 they have been asking about the royalties from the bauxite mining.

It was claimed then that they were prom­ised royalties and more than $600,000 had been paid to the Lands Department and Mineral Resources.

Whatever royalties were paid to the de­partment could not be passed on to the landowners because there was no legal provision.

Now there is a legal provision in place and landowners will get 80 per cent of whatever was paid to the department.

The same will happen to the Namosi land­owners where copper mining explorations have been going on for a number of years.

The new law could have been introduced by previous governments because the roy­alty issue was also mentioned in previous constitutions.

It’s not known why it wasn’t done – may­be an administrative oversight?

The FijiFirst Government must be com­mended for having the political courage to bring in the new law to give the landown­ers a fair share. In fact 80 per cent is more than a fair share. Landowners will get the lion’s share.

That’s a sizeable chunk of Government revenue. So this is a wonderful gesture from a Government that continues to be responsive to the people’s needs.

A report by Sydney-based Dome Gold Mines Limited paints a positive picture of mineral deposits and the mining future in Fiji.

Bloomberg reports that Dome Gold Mines explores for and evaluates mineral depos­its in Fiji.

Dome Gold Mines explores for gold, cop­per, mineral sands, silver, and magnetite and non-magnetic heavy minerals. The company holds 100 per cent interests in three special prospecting licences, includ­ing the Ono Island project covering 3,028 hectares that is located on Ono Island; Si­gatoka Iron Sand project covering an area of 2522.69 hectares, which is situated on the south coast of Viti Levu; and Nadrau project covering 33,213 hectares that is lo­cated on the main island of Viti Levu.

In its own report, Dome Gold Mines says mining is an integral part of Fiji’s econ­omy, with gold representing one of the country’s largest exports.

“Its major mining activities are focused on the production of gold, silver and ce­ment,” the report says.

“The islands of Fiji are located on the Pacific “Rim of Fire”, the active tectonic boundary between the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plate which is known to host several major world-class porphyry cop­per-gold and epithermal gold deposits.

“The increase in metal prices and a bet­ter understanding of the relationship be­tween gold and copper deposits and high level magmatism has focused recent explo­ration on young volcanic terrains of the circum-Pacific region, in particular Fiji.

“Extensive gold copper mineralisation occurs throughout the Pacific Rim, which stretches from New Zealand northwards to Fiji, then to Papua New Guinea and branches out through the Philippines and the Indonesian Islands. Recently there have been a number of major discoveries, including Porgera and Lihir Island, PNG, Hishikari in Japan, Kelian in Indonesia, in addition to the redevelopment of epith­ermal deposits mined earlier last century such as Waihi and Golden Cross in New Zealand.

“Gold production in Fiji is dominated by the Emperor Gold Mine, owned by AIM listed Vatukoula Gold Mines, which has been in near continuous production since 1935, with a past production of over 7 MOZ (million ounces) of gold and current re­sources of just under 5 MOZ gold.

“Major mining house, Newcrest, manag­es and owns 69.94 per cent of the Namosi Joint Venture, which is considered to be one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits (approximately 52 MOZ gold equivalent), which is currently subject to an Environmental Impact Study.

“Other Fijian deposits of significance in­clude the Mt Kasi Gold Mine, which is sub­ject to plans to recommence production, the Tuvatu Gold Mine and the Cirianui and Dakuniba gold deposits, currently un­der exploration.

“In a recent review undertaken for the United States Trade and Development Pro­gram, by the East-West Centre, Honolulu, it was recognised that procedures for gain­ing land access for mineral exploration and development in Fiji were among the most favourable in the South West Pacific.

“The Government of Fiji, with a sound Mining Act and administration founded on British law is co-operative and pro-development, offering reasonable royalty and taxation structures, as well as negotia­ble taxation concessions to foster econom­ic development.

“The Ministry of Lands, Mineral Re­sources and Environment (‘MLMRE) is Fiji’s main Government agency that im­plements the country’s mineral develop­ment policies under the Mining Act of 1978 (revised 1985). The Mineral Resources Department (‘MRD’), under the MLMRE, develops mining policies and provides geo­logical information to assist mining sector investors and facilitate the exploration and development of mineral and petrole­um resources in the country. Exploration licences within Fiji are granted for gold, base metals, bauxite, limestone/marble, aggregate, petroleum and natural gas, and geothermal heat.”

It’s clear from this report that activities associated with mineral mining are likely to increase. That’s good news for landown­ers in terms of royalties.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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