The Fijian government confirmed this week that it will resume bauxite ore exports next month. A stagnant market for the ore has frustrated efforts to sell for the past year.
According to Apete Soro, acting director for mines at the Department of Mineral Resources, the firm of Aurum Exploration Fiji Ltd has secured an overseas buyer for the aluminium precursor. The stockpile in question presumably now resides at the Nawailevu stockpile area on Gaola Bay, Vanua Levu.
“Depending on the ship capacity, the plan is to export approximately 70,000 tonnes of bauxite as first shipment in 2016,” Soro explained. The sale of that quantity of bauxite should fetch a net price of US$1.92 million.
Soro went on to explain that the sale had been delayed thanks to weak demand from buyers in the People’s Republic of China. The fact that the bauxite mined in Fiji is of a low impurity content caused difficulties as well.
“Major bauxite buyers target high-grade or high-quality bauxite. Fiji bauxite is not classed as high-grade, hence, the immense challenge faced by Aurum Exploration in securing a market or buyer for Fiji bauxite,” Mr Soro said. “Due to its low impurity content, there is increasing efficiency of processing plants and reducing processing costs and overall costs of aluminium production.
“The commissioning of a bauxite ore washing plant at Aurum’s Naibulu, Dreketi mine site has assisted greatly in the company’s efforts to remove or reduce impurities in bauxite ore before export and has significantly improved the bauxite ore quality from Naibulu Mine,” he concluded.
This enabled the firm to find a buyer for its first shipment of the year, explained Soro.
According to Fiji’s director mineral Raijeli Taga, another 30,000 metric tons of low-grade bauxite remains in country at the mining site in Dreketi, Macuata, northeast of Nawailevu, awaiting a buyer.