Fiji’s Ministry of Land and Mineral Resources has issued two special exploration licenses to Chinese mining company Ding Jing Mining Pty Ltd for over a year after locals challenged the move.
After China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited eight Pacific countries, there are concerns that Beijing will continue to influence the Pacific.
and statement Announced on June 17, the ministry has given Dingjin a special exploration license to explore Lautoka’s Vuda in the northwest of the island, and another license to explore Rakiraki in the north of Ra. Confirmed that was given.
“The outlook for Vuda and Rakiraki minerals is fascinating and unexplored, and in itself is an incentive for dinjin mining to proceed with historic exploration work done in both outlooks,” a media statement said. I am.
“The Ding Jin Group companies have a diverse investment portfolio in Fiji, and their latest venture is mineral exploration and mineral development with the establishment of Ding Jing Mining Pty Limited.”
Potential gold mine
Located about 10 km from Lautoka in western Fiji, Vuda was first explored before World War II. Intermittent mining activities took place between 1938 and 1954, producing 22.6 kg of gold and 5.5 kg of silver.
Rakiraki was first investigated in the 1930s and continued to be actively investigated from the 1980s until 2018, when Nagaya owners relinquished their licenses.
Fiji’s Minister Jone Usamate congratulates the Chinese company for its license and successful completion of the “strict” application process of the Department of Mineral Resources.
“DingJingMiningPty Limited does not guarantee the risks associated with mineral exploration and profits at this stage until a viable or minable mineral resource is discovered when acquiring two special exploration licenses, a commitment of risk capital. I am fully aware of this. I made up my mind, “he said.
In March 2021, more than 40 residents of Rakiraki Village were reported to have attended a public consultation meeting held by the island’s Ministry of Mineral Resources and expressed concerns about granting Ding Jin a permit to dig sand. Fijian..
Noah Tuiloma, a spokesman for the ministry, revealed that no other company has a mining license to operate within the boundaries of Ra.
Villagers were also reported to welcome development, but preferred local companies. At the same time, they recognized the need for another source of economic development in the region after the closure of the Penang sugar plant.
“Ding Jing only applied for exploration, including geological mapping, soil sampling, and surveys. If licensed, most of this will be done on the ground,” said Raymond Mohammed, director of the Ministry of Mineral Resources. I am saying.
“After that, if you want to go further, you need to apply for an exploration license.”
“This gets a little deeper, but landowners need to understand that nothing is done without permission. Environmental impact assessment and rehabilitation costs need to be considered along with the budget.”
Mohammed also said he received two letters from the villagers of Ra who opposed the project.
“We’ve heard their opinions and reservations, but we can’t decide on bias because we don’t discriminate when reviewing applications,” he said.
Chinese mining in the Pacific
Trade data analysis by Parents In 2019, China revealed that it received more than half of its total exports of seafood, timber and minerals from the Pacific region (equivalent to $ 3.3 billion).
Shane Macleod, Research Fellow at the Lowy Institute, said China’s proximity to the region helped China become a major customer.
“They just have an appetite. They need natural resources, they are looking for resources, and the Pacific Ocean is geographically close. There is also the added benefit of shorter supply lines,” Macleod told The Guardian. I told you.
“You can see the ram nickel mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG), which provides raw materials directly to China in the region without being shipped from the other side of the globe.”
Data from American Enterprise Research Institute It shows that Chinese companies have invested more than US $ 2 billion in Pacific mining over the last two decades, including the controversial Porguera, Ramnickel and Frieda River mines in Papua New Guinea.
2020, PNG government Canceled mining lease It is part of a Chinese-owned Porguera gold mine in Enga, claiming that the country has not obtained a fair distribution of profits.