Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mining in Fiji: The Military Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread)

Intelligentsiya - 18 February 2010

Today we wake up to news in the Fiji Times that a Chinese manganese smelting company will be setting up shop in the upper reaches of Navosa.

The chinese company, China Yunnan Metallurgical Company (CYMCO) are in partnership with a Mr John Sanday of the Viti Mining Ltd.

Mr Sanday, the Chairman and CEO of Viti Mining, has been rumoured to have a very colourful career and has become actively engaged in the mining sector in Fiji along with personalities such as Ratu Timoci Tavanavanua and surveyor/land development consultant Michael Whippy.

Other expansions in the mining industry include bauxite mining in Bua by Chinese mining company Xinfa Aurum.

Of particular interest in the bauxite mining operations is the news that landowners were compelled to harvest their pine trees (possibly earlier than scheduled) to make way for the bauxite mine operations. The Fiji Pine's George Vuki is banking on being able to replant pine after the mining of bauxite is completed.

The local (token) Indigenous Fijian counterpart of the company and Managing director Isireli Dagaga is currently awaiting the results of the Environment Impact Assessment report and will apparently duly comment on the EIA outcomes upon its release.

More information about the bauxite mining plans can be accessed here and here.

Also in the mining industry, good news broke earlier this year about increased output and (sudden) "world class size" gold deposits at our Vatukoula gold mine.

The gold mine has a history of valid and longstanding grievances of the mineworkers against the owners, which has in the last week reared its head for attention at the international level.

So what is the point of today's blog in relation to mining?

In relation to manganese mining, it may interest landowners in Navosa that manganese mining in China is getting resistance from their own locals because of the environmental damage caused.

And we thought that moving pictures would tell it much better than we ever could.

Check out Al Jazeera case studies of bauxite mining from Jamaica and Guinea below as well as ain inspiring tale of how local Argentinean communities rallied together to push-back on a Canadian gold-mining conglomerate, Barrick Gold.

The moral of the story is: all that glitters isn't gold despite any sales pitch vigorously promoting inflated benefits such as investments, foreign exchange earnings and increased employment.

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