Friday, March 21, 2014 – 5.00pm
For Immediate Release
SODELPA is committed to protecting the environmental interests and rights of Fiji’s future
generations and calls on government to allow free, fair and open public consultations during
the review of the Mining Act 1978.
Aside from an article in a local business magazine and a news piece by Fiji One Television, it
seems there has not been any attempt by government to consult resource owners or
residents of areas that have been earmarked for mining activities (refer to attached mining
tenement map of Vanua Levu).
It is now mid-March. If there were any real intentions to hear and include the views of Fijian
citizens in this process, government should have already facilitated a transparent and all-
encompassing public call for submissions from January at the latest least, two months ahead
of the April 2014 deadline indicated as the date for completion of the review.
What is quite clear is that government intends to review the Mining Act and implement any
subsequent changes, in isolation, without due consideration of the needs of resource
owners and the communities whose livelihood and food security will be impacted by this
This is not at all surprising given government has already weakened the I-Taukei Land Trust
Board’s (“ITLB”) as custodian of native land through the establishment of the Land Bank.
Furthermore, sections 27 and 28 of the 2013 Constitution undermine the ITLB’s role as
custodian and protector of native land. It exploits and positions government’s economic,
commercial and profit making interests as more significant to environmental protection and
sustainability and also more significant than iTaukei’s right to culture and identity.
In Fiji’s long-term future, it will be the future generations, resource owners and their families
who will be at the losing end and will have to pay for this short sightedness. Government’s
current stance is effectively sacrificing the wellbeing of our future generations.
Government continues to propagate the idea of sustainable mining but SODELPA is doubtful
it even understands what this translates to in policies and practice.
The Sustainable Development Framework originated from the International Council on
Mining and Metals and it will do government well to understand its 10 principles of –
1. Ethical business practices and sound corporate governance
2. Integration of sustainable development considerations into corporate decision-
3. Advocacy for human rights and respect for cultures and values
4. Adoption of sound risk management practices
5. Continuous improvement in health and safety performance
6. Continuous improvement in environmental performance
7. Conservation of biodiversity and sound land-use planning
8. Responsible life-cycle management of products from creation to disposal
9. Contribution to the development of communities in which companies operate
10. Practice of transparent communication and engagement with stakeholders.
Anecdotal evidence collected by the Bua Urban Youth Network through their traditional
networks indicate government’s dealing of Nawailevu village in Bua failed to abide by all of
the 10 principles above.
For instance –
1. To date the landowning unit of the “Mataqali Naicobo” is yet to receive full
compensation of the sum that was promised to them. Moreover the agreed sum of $1.8
million is currently held in a government account whose signatory is the Commissioner
Northern who is based in Labasa, in the province of Macuata; and
2. To access their money, members of the Mataqali Naicobo have to go down to Labasa
town – a day trip- and apply for it. Funds can only be given through four qualifiers.
• To build a house
• Wedding Funds
• Funeral Funds
• Educational Funds
The member is then expected to acquit all funds to the commissioner’s office after the
3. The absence of monitoring teams as part of effectively managing the environmental
impacts of the mining activity at Nawailevu points to the permeating lack of concern for
the local communities.
4. Workers at the mine are billeted at Nawailevu Village by the company, Xinfa Aurum.
Resource owners and environmental advocates must learn from the case of Nawailevu and
ensure they remain abreast of and informed about development plans and changes to legal
frameworks regarding natural resources. As current custodians and stewards, it is their
responsibility to protect and ensure this “inheritance” is intact and passed safely onto the
next generation for their livelihood and security.
Finally, SODELPA recognises that government policies targeted at weakening traditional I-
Taukei institutions are not for a better Fiji nor is it for equality.
It is really about the race for the Pacific region’s rich mineral resources and is designed to
ensure easy access to valuable natural resources for dubious commercial gains without a
regard to the welfare of the future generation of Fiji.
– Ends –
66 McGregor Road, Suva; GPO Box 17889, Suva, Fiji
Telephone: 679 3311132
Authorised: SODELPA Press Office