Council calls for review of Mining Act

June 22, 2024 7:50 am

The Province of Lomaiviti is set to propose a significant review of the current mining legislation to the government and the Great Council of Chiefs.

This review is aimed at granting resource owners better access to the wealth beneath their lands.

Lomaiviti Provincial Council Chair Ratu Etueni Caucau highlights that the existing mining act, which stipulates that any resources found below six feet belong to the state, is a major barrier for resource owners.

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According to Ratu Etueni Caucau, this law contributes to the challenge where resource-rich owners remain financially disadvantaged.

“One of the contributing reasons is the laws that are restrictive, the legislation that is restricting us in developing our resources. One good example is the six-foot law. We are only entitled, we can only manage, or we can only utilize about six feet of ground, and anything below that belongs to the government.”

Ratu Etueni reiterates that the Lomaiviti province intends to champion this proposal on behalf of all resource owners, emphasizing the importance of the resolution.

Minister for Justice Siromi Turaga acknowledges the fairness of recognizing the issues and rights that are vital to Fiji’s indigenous people.

“It’s a positive development for the Itaukei. It’s those rights that belong to us, the indigenous people. And we want them to be enacted as laws.So in practical terms, what it means is this: When we make a policy, we will make sure that those issues covering Itaukei are covered. So it’s fair.”

The proposed review of the Mining Act marks a critical step towards addressing the long-standing issues faced by resource owners, which could pave the way for more equitable resource management and utilization, benefiting indigenous communities and promoting sustainable development.