Ma­jor boost for all landown­ers

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

Fiji Sun - - Comment - Ne­mani De­laibatiki Feed­back: ne­mani.de­laibatiki@fi­jisun.com.fj

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 At­tor­neyGen­eral 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 In­doAus­tralian 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 prode­vel­op­ment, 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.

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