Sigatoka sands

Int'l - Black sand mining pushes Fiji's boundaries

Much of Fiji's coastline is fragile - under threat from climate change, coastal erosion and flooding, which has become more severe in the past two years - it's also being affected by mining.

Black sand mining by a Chinese owned company called Amex Resources Ltd has been happening at the Ba River Delta on the north of Viti Levu for most of the past two years.

Another project, by a Fijian subsidiary of Australian company Dome Gold Mines, is exploring black sand deposits near the Sigatoka Sand Dunes on the south coast of the main island.

That site is adjacent to the Sigatoka Sand Hills National Park, which is reported to be close to World Heritage status.

Environmental advocacy group, Jubilee Australia, is calling for the mining to stop, saying the communities have not been properly informed about the implications of the projects.

Spokesperson Fyfe Strachan said Jubilee was calling for consultation with the people to ensure they are able to give free, prior and informed consent to any mining development.

"In Ba the community is starting to see some environmental impacts already occurring from the project, including impacts on crabs and fish stocks, and in Sigatoka members of the community that they just really concerned to have a better understanding of the risks and the environmental impacts of those projects before those projects are given the green light to go ahead," she said.

A Fiji environmental and human rights defender, Tevita Naikasawalu, backs the Jubilee call, saying the natural resources, the foreshore, are irreplacable.

"Without them the people who depend on them will not survive, given our current situation. We are in Covid and our economy has dropped, I think behind zero now," he said.

"The only thing that is sustaining us is our natural resources."

The co-ordinator of the social, ecological and justice programme for Caritas in Fiji, Kositatino Tikomaibolatagane, said communities at Ba that did consent, were misled.

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