Mining Law Review Will Be ‘All-Inclusive’

The evaluation was enabled under an agreement between the Canadi­an-based Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) and the Government of Fiji.
11 Jan 2022 16:51
 Mining Law Review Will Be ‘All-Inclusive’

Moves to carry out an evalu­ation of Fiji’s mining laws and policies have been welcomed as timely.

Viti Mining, Fiji’s only locally-owned mining company, said the announcement was a great effort to address duplicity in processes.

The going concern among opera­tors is with duplication, additional costs and different interpretations of the same issue, between two sepa­rate agencies.

The clash in roles between the De­partment of Environment and the Mineral Resources Department, calls for more clarity.

Another international mining company said the ministerial deci­sion was indicative of the national commitment to improve the entire mining process.

“It’s a big step, a huge move, and we hope it is carried out right,” one commentator said.

SunBiz’s queries to a number of mining and mineral exploration companies, remained unanswered when this edition went to print.

The review might be of interest to a group of landowners in Namosi who are challenging the policies that govern the mineral exploration efforts.

The review

In a letter dated December 22, 2021, the Mineral Resources Department informed the Mining and Quarry­ing Council of its intention to carry out the review.

The Mining Policy Framework as­sessment project will also consider the existing draft Mineral Exploita­tion and Exploration Bill (MEEB), which is in its 11th draft.

Mineral Resources Department di­rector, Raymond Mohammed, said: “Your support and positive partici­pation in this consultation exercise will be appreciated, and will con­tribute immensely towards achiev­ing the objectives of the MPF assess­ment project for Fiji.”

Local consultant and former di­rector for the Mineral Resources Department, Venasio Nasara, will lead consultations with individual organisations.

The consultation

The Mining and Quarrying Coun­cil said it had informed its individ­ual members, who would in turn make individual and direct presen­tations to the review panel.

A timeline for the review was being finalised, Mr Mohammed said.

The evaluation was enabled under an agreement between the Canadi­an-based Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) and the Government of Fiji.

The review, led by the Intergovern­mental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Develop­ment, will use Fiji’s Mining Policy Framework platform.

The framework assessments will also include extensive in-person consultations with key stakehold­ers, Mr Mohammed said.

The private sector, civil society, mine operators and mineral explo­ration licence holders, can have their say during the review, he said.

Last year, Mineral Resources Min­ister Jone Usamate said the Gov­ernment’s five-year and 20-year Na­tional Development Plan, included a sustainable mining industry.

“The National DevelopmentPlan sets targets and timelines for this sector; targets and timelines from 2018 to 2022,” he said.

“We intend to be as inclusive as possible, taking into account all the significant changes and develop­ments in the global mining sector and also the evolving dynamics of the local sector.

“We want to end up with a modern mining legislation.”

In December, 2020, Cabinet was in­formed of the progress to review the Mining Act and Fiji’s Mining Policy of 1997.

Phase 1

Cabinet also endorsed the review of the old Act, and also to look at the Bill that was proposed in 2006, Mr Usamate said.

It was reviewed in 2013 with con­sideration to relook at Fiji’s Min­eral Policy, he said.

Government aims to have the re­viewed Act enforced, with the en­actment process to commence by December 2022, Mr Usamaste said.

The ministry’s announcement last month, marks the beginning of a three phase exercise that will lead to the reviewed laws.

Phase 2

will be the publication stage where IGF provides its re­port.

“The draft Bill is revised and final­ised and then it goes to Cabinet and ultimately to Parliament.

Phase 3

will be the capacity-build­ing stage or the implementation stage once the Bill has been com­pleted and the Act has been enacted.

“There will be training that has to be undertaken, awareness that needs to be undertaken for all the stakeholders in the country.

“It will see an overhaul of the envi­ronmental provisions of the Mining Act.”



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