According to Fiji’s Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Ashneel Sudhaka, Aurum Exploration (Fiji) Limited is in the process of searching for buyers for its bauxite resources, eyeing the resumption of shipments within the next six months.
“There are potential buyers but the catalyst for finalising a bauxite sale agreement is the bauxite quality,” explained Sudhaka. “Aurum Exploration (Fiji) Limited is exploring options in terms of securing buyers for its bauxite resource. Hence, the steps taken by the company is to improve its bauxite beneficiation facility efficiency which should result in improved economic value of bauxite. This is due to its improved quality after removal of gangue material.”
Sudhaka went on to say that Aurum’s goal was to begin shipment by the end of the first half of next year. At present, the primary hurdle is quality issues.
“There is no global crisis as such to affect China’s bauxite demand. The problem is not the global bauxite market but the low quality of in-situ bauxite resource at Naibulu Mine. The mining lease holder, Aurum Exploration (Fiji) Limited had made a business decision to reassess mine plans as how best to economically extract and process the low grade ore the company had encountered within its mining lease.”
Aside from quality issues, Sudhakar explained that Fijian exporters are competing in a fierce global bauxite market, as exporters like Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea offer buyers higher-grade bauxite, which reduces processing costs. Such high-grade bauxite is in strong demand by refiners in the People’s Republic of China, he explained.
Sudhakar said Aurum has made over two dozen shipments of bauxite ore since 2012.
“Out of these 26 shipments, 22 shipments originated from Nawailevu bauxite mine in Bua and four from the Naibulu bauxite mine in Dreketi,” he elaborated.
“Since 2012, a total of approximately 1.13 metric tonnes of bauxite exported from Nawailevu mine in Bua and from the Naibulu mine in Dreketi. A total of approximately 233,000 tonnes have been exported now with a total gross value of FJ$58.9 million. Only one shipment this year was done and that was in February with a total gross value of shipment approximately FJ$2.7 million (US$1.3 million).”