Bauxite Mining – Who Gains?

  • 29th October 2015
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NAKALOU VILLAGERS BEWARE – save your land from devastation!

Landowning mataqalis in Nakalou Village in Macuata should be wary of the advice given them by Assistant Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Joeli Cawaki, to let their land be mined for bauxite by an Asian company.

According to our sources, Mr Cawaki appeared to be acting as an agent of the Asian company he chose not to identify.

The question we ask is: Is the Minister connected with the company in any capacity that he should virtually push the mataqalis to give their consent, well knowing the plight of the Nawailevu Vilagers in Bua who were hoodwinked by the Bainimarama regime some 3 years ago into leasing their land to a Chinese company, Chiping Xinfa Huaya Alumina Ltd (refer story in today’s Fiji Times).

It was revealed in the Standing Committee on Natural Resources that the government and the landowning units of Nawailevu received just $1.23m over a two year period from the mining company which made $40m over the same period.

The company grabbed the lion’s share of the proceeds ($38m). We ask again:

1. Is this the sort of return for which you want the landowning units of Nakalou Village to alienate their land to the Asian company?

2. Has an environmental; impact study been done on the so-called project and if not, why are the landowners being lured to surrender their land to mining knowing well the environmental ‘carnage’ left behind by the mining company in Nawailevu?

3. Just a couple of months ago we were told that because of low demand for bauxite the company was not sending any further shipments. If that is so, then why is another (or is it the same company) investing in another mining venture? Is it really bauxite they are after or is it some other mineral or metal that is attracting them?

Mr Cawaki made the following comments when hard-selling the Asian company to the Nakalou villagers as reported in the Fiji Times of October 27. We run it with our replies::

JC: Government would step in and assist landowning units implement conditions of the venture

FLP reply: After the Nawailevu (Bua) experience, the landowners are hardly likely to take the Bainimarama government seriously. It assists the foreign companies at the expense of the landowners.

JC: He urged landowners to take ownership of the development of their land and its resources

FLP: We all know that landowners lack capital to develop their land resources. The Bainimarama government has done little to assist them in this regard.

JC: Despite the richness in the natural resources they own, iTaukei people continued to live in poverty

FLP: They continue to be poor along with half the others because of a lack of opportunities, low wages, official exploitation of their resources and sheer neglect of their needs by an insensitive government.

JC: iTaukei people continued to be blinded and influenced by the effects of colonialism

FLP: Fiji has been a free nation for the last 45 years. It is the Bainimarama dictatorship which is the problem.

JC: Nakalou would be the first place in the country whereby landowning units would directly be involved with investors.

FLP: That is what the Nawailevu Villagers were also told. Look what happened!

JC: iTaukei people continued to give their resources to investors who made millions while the landowners only lived on the meager unimproved capital value of leases they received on a monthly basis.

FLP: One wonders who made millions from giving away land unlawfully to China Railway and the Gold Century Group?

JC: Landowners were missing during discussions regarding developments on their land.

FLP: That has been the case for the last 9 years since the 2006 coup.

JC: Urged landowners in Nakalou to be vigilant and step forward for the development of their people.

FLP: The landowners need to be vigilant, yes. But they should be wary of the official government agents of foreign companies who are after their land for a pittance.

Nakalou villagers should see through the scam and save their land from degradation and exploitation by foreigners.