Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Public Service, Peoples Charter for Change and Progress, Information, i-Taukei Affairs, Provincial Development, Multi-Ethnic Affairs, Sugar Industry, Lands and Mineral Resources
Address at the Official Handing-Over of Nawailevu Bauxite Mining Lease
Fri. 13th May, 2011
Holiday Inn, SUVA
Your Excellency Dr. Han, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China;
Executives of Aurum (Fiji) Limited;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and a Good Afternoon.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Lands & Mineral Resources issued the first surface lease to Aurum Explorations (Fiji) Limited at Nawailevu under the Land Use Bank.
Fijileaks: The lease was given at the directive of Bainimarama in his capacity as the unelected coupist Prime Minister
Bainimarama speech: "Today, Aurum is being issued its licence to commence mining for bauxite.
This occasion is significant and indeed a milestone for a number of reasons. The issuance of a surface lease under the Land Use Bank has meant that the landowners will receive a higher return for the lease of their lands than what they would have received through the iTaukei Lands Trust Board. In addition, the investor is assured of a secure tenure through a simplified land leasing arrangement."
Fijileaks: Audit noted that no fair share payments have been received from Aurum Exploration (Fiji) Limited since commencement of the leases in 2011, thus depriving LOUs of their just dues. Non remittance
of fair share by the mining company indicates a lack of monitoring by the Unit to ensure timely compliance with requirements of the Agreements. The mining company has finally remitted $600,000 to the Department of Lands in November 2014 (refer RR 263725 of 3/11/14) and which is still being held by the Department of Lands in trust for onward transmission to the LOUs.
Bainimarama speech: "The grant of the Mining Lease heralds the beginning of a large-scale bauxite mining in Fiji. It is projected that this mine will provide significant returns not just to Aurum, but to the Fijian economy as a whole."
Fijileaks: Third party confirmations were obtained from Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) on tonnage of soil extracted by the company by customs officers when soil is ready for shipment. However audit verifications with data obtained from the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) revealed that a total of 1,287,843.7 tonnes of bauxite had been extracted as at 14/10/2014 indicating that the company had extracted volumes in excess of the allowable quota for bauxite extraction as per conditions of the Memorandum of Lease.
Bainimarama speech: "My Government, as you are aware, is focussed on developing the North and the commencement of this mining operation will contribute to that stimulus and initiative.
The mining sector has the potential to significantly increase not just Government revenue but also increase our GDP. It has the potential to provide increased employment opportunities, upskilling and provide spin-off investment opportunities.
However, the issuance of mining licences must be through a modern regulatory and transparent system. Through such a process of ensuring the best investor, the Mining Industry can equal our other traditional revenue earners such as tourism and sugar.
I look forward to Aurum becoming a partner with Government to bring mutual benefits to both parties, and also becoming a good corporate citizen. I also acknowledge the assistance and facilitation provided by the Chinese Government, in particular through the tireless efforts of His Excellency, Ambassador Dr. Han.
I take this opportunity to once again reiterate my Government’s commitment to providing a transparent and efficient investment platform and environment for the benefit of foreign and local investors, and all Fijians.