Investor Interest Grow

Investor interest is mounting in Fiji's mineral resource rich space, even though grounds are taken up.
13 Aug 2022 13:26
Investor Interest Grow
From left: Minister for Mineral Resources, Jone Usamate, Lion One Metals founder, president and chief executive officer, Walter Berukoff, and director Mineral Resources Department. Raymond Mohammed, during a mine visit on August 8, 2022, at Tuvatu alkaline gold project, near Nadi

Investor interest is mounting in Fiji’s mineral resource rich space, even though grounds are taken up.

Director Mineral Resources, Raymond Mohammed’s com­ment followed the successful extension of a lease governing the tenure and operations of Lion One Metals Tuvatu alkaline gold project, near Nadi.

“We are still talking with potential investors,” he said.

“We try to filter them as best we can in terms of the grounds that are available.”

This, as the department continued to support companies that were at advanced stages of ex­ploration.

It is also an effort to progress such projects to mining stage, Mr Mohammed said.

Fiji needed more development, he said.

“The encouraging thing is more investment is coming to the sector,” Mr Mohammed said.

The increased positive developments within the mineral resources and mining sector were owed to the encouraging investor-friendly Gov­ernment policies, he said.

“Even though the global economic climate is quite tough, Fiji has been proactive through the Government’s efforts, to attract and retain in­vestment, to help with the post COVID-19 recov­ery,” Mr Mohammed said.

“Once we finalise the special pros­pecting licence, after it is applied for, we will announce it.”

International arbitration

Calls for representation at inter­national arbitration level have been welcomed by the Mineral Resources Department, with its director urg­ing concerned operators to make submissions.

Mr Mohammed says the current mining Act contains provisions for the convening with a Mines Appeals Board, where arbitration was con­cerned.

Any party aggrieved by the deci­sion of the director of mines, can appeal to the board, he said.

Vatukoula Gold Mines is the only gold producer in the country.

Lion One Metals joins the ranks as the second gold mine late next year, 17 years after it founded its Tuvatu project.

Together the two operators – both located on the mainland – would employ close to 2000 people, most of whom are locals.

Review of the mining policy frame­work

The first of three stages of a review of the mining policy framework – which identified gaps – has been completed.

A subsequent report is being pre­prared for the second phase.

It follows extensive consultations and analysis with stakeholders, in­cluding non-government and civil society organisations.

“This report will then inform the second phase of the review,” Mr Mo­hammed said.

“The second phase will involve more extensive public consulta­tion.”

The review was enabled under an agreement between the Canadian-based Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sus­tainable Development (IGF) and the Government of Fiji and then it goes to Cabinet and ulti­mately to Parliament.

Phase 3 will be entail capacity-building once the Bill has been completed and the Act passed as law.

Training and awareness will be carried out with stakeholders in an effort to bring about an overhaul of environmental provisions of the Min­ing Act.

Fiji’s Mining Act, which was adopt­ed in 1966, is also part of the review.

According to earlier reports, the Government expects to enforce the reviewed Act by December 2022.

The Mining Act was reviewed in 2013 with consideration to relook at Fiji’s mineral policy.

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

The National Development Plan sets targets and timelines for this sector, from 2018 to 2022.

It is a ministerial effort to deliver a modern mining legislation.


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