SUNBIZ

Viti Mining Gets Two Licences

Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Jone Usamate, hailed Viti Mining for its $1 million investment, which will span the next three years of mineral exploration.
06 Mar 2021 11:55
Viti Mining Gets Two Licences
From left. Viti Minng consultant, Tausia Kereto, with executive chairman John Sanday, Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Jone Usamate, Permanent Secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources, Raijeli Taga and acting director for Mineral Resources Department, Raymond Mohammed, in Suva on March 5, 2021. Photo: Frederica Elbourne

Viti Mining Pte Limited, Fiji’s only locally owned mining and mineral exploration company, has been issued two prospective licences for mineral exploration.

Acting director Mineral Resources Department Raymond Mohammed made the comment in Suva yesterday, while meeting with the media to discuss mining matters.

Viti Mining is expected to carry out gold exploration at Nabila in Sigatoka, and Viani, in the province of Cakaudrove, Vanua Levu.

Viti Mining has overseas-based financiers, Mr Mohammed said.

The company is owned by Fijian-born and former banker, John Sanday.

Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Jone Usamate, hailed Viti Mining for its $1 million investment, which will span the next three years of mineral exploration.

Mr Usamate officially handed over the licenses as he lauded the company for its confidence in Fiji and the mineral resources sector.

Ding Jin Mining Limited 

In another development, Mr Mohammed confirmed that a prospective license for mineral exploration in Rakiraki had met with objection from landowners.

The objection followed a public notice on Ding Jin Mining Pte Ltd’s intentions to carry out mineral exploration at the Rakiraki site.

Mr Mohammed, said reasons cited in the objection were confidential.

Ding Jin is a Chinese based mining company with proven record for mineral exploration, he said. The department had carried out its due diligence on the company before granting a special exploration license, Mr Mohammed said. Local director and owner, John Nong, could not be reached for comments via telephone and e-mail over days of SunBiz trying to contact him.

Ding Jin was also awarded a prospective license to carry out an exploration for gold in Vuda, Lautoka.

Ding Jin also deals in local real estate, with the construction of a shopping complex in Nausori Town, and two tourism properties at Wailoaloa, Nadi.

Mt Kasi 

Meanwhile, a review of a redress on a tender for mineral exploration at Mt Kasi is expected to be completed for the line minister’s consideration late next week, Mr Mohammed said.

He could not reveal the identity of the company saying it could comprise the integrity of processes involved in the review.

Lands and Mineral Resources minister Jone Usamate earlier said concerns were received from landowners over the awarding of the Mt Kasi tender.

SunBiz was reliably informed that landowners of Mt Kasi had wanted a designated portion of the land area in the tender set aside for their own development.

SunBiz had reported that Vatukoula Gold Mines won the tender for mineral exploration at Mt Kasi.

Other licenses 

The Mineral Resources Department has issued 31 active special prospective licences, and eight active mining leases, Mr Mohammed said.

“We received 11 applications for prospective licences, of which four withdrew because of financial reasons,” Mr Mohammed said.

“Of the remaining seven, two have been issued to Viti Mining, with the five remaining licences being processed.”

Five prospective licences for mineral exploration involving the search for gold are being processed, he said.

The five applications relate to sites at:

  • Mt Kasi
  • Sabeto
  • Vuda
  • Nakauvadra, and
  • Ra.

According to Mr Mohammed, two foreign companies were among applicants for the five prospective gold sites.

The companies were:

  • Ding Jin Mining,
  • Destiny Gold, and
  • Tengy Mining.

“Some companies hold more than one exploration licence,” Mr Mohammed explained.

Misconceptions

Mr Mohammed said misconceptions among locals were centred on concerns over landowner access to their land.

“In the case of mineral exploration, the landowners can still go about their daily lives and still can use their land,” Mr Mohammed said.

“There is some reseervation against Chinese investment in Fiji, bit we do not discriminate if the applicants can meet the requirements and are performance-based.

“It doesn’t mean they hold the ground, they hold it forever.”

Over the past 10 years, the ministry has contributed two per cent to Fiji’s Gross Domestic Product, he said.

“The sector has the potential to help with economic recovery.”

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj



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