Mining is an integral part of Fiji’s economy, with gold representing one of the country’s largest exports. Its major mining activities are focused on the production of gold, silver and cement.
The islands of Fiji are located on the Pacific “Rim of Fire”, the active tectonic boundary between the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plate which is known to host several major world-class porphyry copper-gold and epithermal gold deposits.
The increase in metal prices and a better understanding of the relationship between gold and copper deposits and high level magmatism has focused recent exploration on young volcanic terranes of the circum-Pacific region, in particular Fiji.
Extensive gold copper mineralisation occurs throughout the Pacific Rim, which stretches from New Zealand northwards to Fiji, then to Papua New Guinea and branches out through the Philippines and the Indonesian Islands. Recently there have been a number of major discoveries including Porgera and Lihir Island, PNG, Hishikari in Japan, Kelian in Indonesia, in addition to the redevelopment of epithermal deposits mined earlier last century such as Waihi and Golden Cross in New Zealand.
Gold production in Fiji is dominated by the Emperor Gold Mine, owned by AIM listed Vatukoula Gold Mines, which has been in near continuous production since 1935, with a past production of over 7 Moz of gold and current resources of just under 5 Moz gold.
Major mining house, Newcrest, manages and owns 69.94% of the Namosi Joint Venture, which is considered to be one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits (approximately 52 Moz gold equivalent), which is currently subject to an Environmental Impact Study.
Other Fijian deposits of significance include the Mt Kasi Gold Mine, which is subject to plans to recommence production, the Tuvatu Gold Mine and the Cirianui and Dakunimba gold deposits, currently under exploration.
In a recent review undertaken for the United States Trade and Development Program, by the East-West Centre, Honolulu, it was recognised that procedures for gaining land access for mineral exploration and development in Fiji were among the most favourable in the South West Pacific.
The Government of Fiji, with a sound Mining Act and administration founded on British law is co-operative and pro-development, offering reasonable royalty and taxation structures, as well as negotiable taxation concessions to foster economic development.
The Ministry of Lands, Mineral Resources and Environment (‘MLMRE) is Fiji’s main Government agency that implements the country’s mineral development policies under the Mining Act of 1978 (revised 1985). The Mineral Resources Department (‘MRD’), under the MLMRE, develops mining policies and provides geological information to assist mining sector investors and facilitate the exploration and development of mineral and petroleum resources in the country.
Exploration licenses within Fiji are granted for gold, base metals, bauxite, limestone/marble, aggregate, petroleum and natural gas, and geothermal heat.