June 28, 2012
Fiji to host world-class iron sands mine
By Jemima Garrett
Updated June 28, 2012 15:30:17
Fiji's Ba river delta is the next mining site for companies trying to keep up with China's demand for raw materials.
Australian mining company Amex Resources has been granted a 21-year mining lease to extract iron sands from 120 square kilometres of shallow water in and around the Ba River delta.
Managing director Matthew Collard says the project will employ around 300 people.
He says Amex has not asked for tax concessions and will pay the standard royalties and corporate taxes to the Fiji Government.
"There is a 3 per cent export royalty that the company must pay once we are exporting the product and then, at this moment in time, we are obligated to the 20 per cent corporate tax, as every other entity," he said.
"We haven't proceeded into any incentives, or tax incentives at this stage. We've just been focussed on getting all our approvals through so that we can get into the construction phase."
Mr Collard says extracting the iron sand will be a very simple operation.
"We are a dredging operation, so very similar to previous exercises around Fiji when they have used it for flood mitigation in the river systems," he said.
"We'll be dredging up the sand and the only difference is that we will have a floating concentrator behind our dredge.
"That dredge will be extracting the iron minerals and once we've extracted the iron minerals, we'll be depositing the remaining sand back into the sea floor and then transporting the iron in a transport barge 30 kilometres to the Lautoka Port, where it will be stockpiled and loaded onto a handimax vessel, more likely to be destined for China."
Mr Collard says Amex will follow the New Zealand model for iron sand mining.
"I think the benchmark for iron sands production is definitely New Zealand. They have been doing it for many decades now and have set the standard," he said.
"They are a high quality iron sands producer. Ba delta, once we have the project up and running, the scheduled production rates are not too dissimilar to New Zealand's operation at the moment so it will place the Fijian operation up there as one of the larger iron sands producers."
Mr Collard says it has obtained environmental approval for the mining project to start.
"The river system and managing it, and making sure we do not cause any further damage to the reef is important to us.
"We have engaged a local environmental consultant who is highly regarded in Fiji and he will be responsible for the continued monitoring of the mining operation."