The Fijian government announced earlier this week that its first load of bauxite this year is currently being loaded onto a cargo ship destined for the People’s Republic of China.
Apete Soro, acting director of the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, told local media earlier this week that the year’s first shipment of 57,960 metric tons is being tucked away in the holds of an ore carrier at the Navakasiga jetty in Bua, on Vanua Levu’s west coast.
“This is the first shipment this year,” explained Soro. “The value of the bauxite varies according to the global market prices of the particular mineral or commodity and the price is calculated at the time of sale.
“For this shipment, it is calculated to be about $2,666,160 [US$1,309,134], subject to rate changes,” he continued, noting that the market for bauxite ore is constantly in flux.
“It will always depend on the above and the buyer’s demand for the commodity.”
“With the bauxite in Fiji, there is a consistent buyer that buys from XINFA Mining,” he concluded.
The government and Aurum Exploration Fiji Ltd. hopes this will be the first of many shipments. This is the fourth shipment since 2015, with sales of the ore netting FJ$52.2 million (US$25.6 million). Last year’s sole bauxite shipment occurred in June, netting the government FJ$2.9 million (US$1.4 million). The shipment prior occurred in August 2016, totaling 69 thousand metric tons and selling for FJ$1.4 million (US$687,570).
The Republic of Fiji is home to the Vanua Levu mine, which is one of the largest bauxite mines in Oceana, with reserves estimated at one billion metric tons. Known for its picturesque beauty, the country has been a difficult location to conduct mining operations due to a military coup in 2006, a constitutional crisis in 2009, and an ongoing military dictatorship.