Business | SUNBIZ

Government Encourage More Locals To Lead Mining Projects

Fiji has qualified and experi­enced personnel to take on leadership roles within Fiji’s mining sector, the Mineral Re­sources Department has said.
27 Feb 2022 12:30
Government Encourage More Locals To Lead Mining Projects
An inspection site at Lion One’s Tuvatu Gold project, Sabeto, Nadi

Fiji has qualified and experi­enced personnel to take on leadership roles within Fiji’s mining sector, the Mineral Re­sources Department has said.

The comment follows SunBiz que­ries over the likelihood of localis­ing the general manager’s post at Vatukoula Gold Mines.

This as Yi Huang, the former gen­eral manager of the mines, resigned last year, citing personal reasons.

“We have potential in the terms of human resource,” Mineral Re­sources Department director, Ray­mond Mohammed, said.

Vatukoula Gold Mines is Fiji’s largest and longest operating gold mine, with manpower of 1400 em­ployees.

Mining manager, Onisimo Fon­manu, is holding the fort until the board announces the next general manager’s appointment.

Vatukoula Gold Mines said the matter of localising the general manager’s position was a question for the board to consider.

Follow up queries from SunBiz re­mained unanswered when this edi­tion went to print.

It is also unknown when the next general manager will be appointed.

Vatukoula Gold Mines general manager, Yi Huang, resigned last year, after he joined his family in Canada for a much-awaited visit.

He cited personal reasons for his resignation.

Mr Yi worked tirelessly for sev­eral years to ensure the continued running and success of the mine.

“The department encourages the mineral development or mining sector to increase its local content,” Mr Mohammed said.

“VGML is focusing on capital de­velopment this year, apart from on-going production.”

Meanwhile, mineral exploration activities are expected to increase this year, with 31 licences admin­istered by the Mineral Resources Department.

The department is banking on the commencement of production at Lion One’s Tuvatu gold mine in Sabeto, Nadi, to boost the sector’s contribution to national economic development.

Lion One expects production to take place toward the end next year.

Mineral Resources Department director, Raymond Mohammed.

Mineral Resources Department director, Raymond Mohammed.

Mt Kasi

Vatukoula Gold Mine has applied for the special prospecting licence to carry out mineral exploration at Mt Kasi.

The Mineral Resources Depart­ment and VGM carried out consul­tations with relevant landowning units in recent weeks, which con­cluded the first phase of the land­owner consultation as part of the special prospecting licence applica­tion process.

“Consultations were undertaken in 23 villages within the Macuata, Bua and Cakaudrove provinces,” the department said.

The initial tender bid for explo­ration at Mt Kasi was awarded to Vatukoula Gold Mines.

“Being successful in the tender process does not guarantee the out­right award of the special prospect­ing licence,” Mr Mohammed said.

“The successful bidder then has to apply for the prospecting licence and fulfill requirements of the ap­plication process.”

Vatukoula Gold Mine is owned and operated by Chinese interests.

“The department has not issued any exploration licence yet for Mt Kasi,” Mr Mohammed said.

Mining legislation review: Address­ing the gaps

The Mineral Resources Depart­ment is “very encouraged” with feedback it received during the ini­tial round of consultations over the mining legislation review.

The mining policy and legislation review commenced this month, in partnership with a Canadian inter­governmental forum.

The InterGovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) has carried out work in developing countries in terms of reviewing leg­islative frameworks for money.

The forum has, in its line of work around the world, proposed sus­tainable or very modern mining laws that capture best practices or modern practices, Mr Mohammed said.

The first stage of consultation deals with stakeholder consulta­tion on the mineral free policy framework analysis, he said.

“We’re consulting with a lot of rel­evant government agencies, before we move into the private sector,” he said.

“We will also touch base with non government organisations and civ­il society organisations.

“There is a lot of willingness on the part of stakeholders to be able to engage, and engage construc­tively, with the department and the ministry.

“Landowners will also be con­sulted.”

An analysis of gaps within the governing legislations and policies, lies at the heart of the extensive consultation, Mr Mohammed said.

A report will be compiled by IGF based on its findings in Fiji, to mark the end of the first round of consultations and review, he said.

“From there on, we will review the legislation itself,” Mr Moham­med said.

As a first measure, the gap analy­sis addresses the fact that the gov­erning legislation was enacted in 1965.

“It’s been amended over the years,” Mr Mohammed said.

“But there is a need to have new modern mining legislation in place, because it is also a catalyst for pro­tecting investment in another gap.”


Landowners of Nabukebuke Vil­lage in Namosi are circulating a petition for its kinsmen to sign, in its stride to ban any form of min­eral and mining development on their land.

“This is non-negotiable,” village spokesman, Petero Saunivalu, said.

“We will mandate it for our people that there will be no more mining and mineral exploration develop­ment on our land.”

Part of the village land is being used by Namosi Joint Venture (NJV) – a 72 per cent owned entity of Newcrest, the largest gold pro­ducer listed on the Australian Se­curities Exchange, and one of the world’s largest gold mining com­panies.

Earlier this month, Namosi Joint Venture informed stakeholders of its exit plans for the Wanikatama camp.

Namosi Joint Venture country manager, Netava Bakaniceva, said the close of the fly-camp signified the completion of exploration work in that particular area.

NJV will now focus and operate out of Waisoi base camp, in Namo­si, he said.

The Mineral Resources Depart­ment said it would not get drawn into the matter, as the landowners of Nabukebuke Village had con­tested the matter from the begin­ning.


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