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  Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service

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Media Release

Minister Kubuabola Speaks on MSG Mineral Development

27th January 2012, Nadi: This morning the Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola addressed the MSG Environment & Climate Change Ministers Inaugural Meeting that is currently meeting in Nadi, on MSG Terrestrial Minerals Development and Impacts.

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The Meeting this morning highlighted  pressures and environmental concerns in terrestrial mining, and identify possible starting points for development of strategic approaches.

There is a need to address pressing mining issues relating to capacity building, environmental management, mining waste disposal, technical skills and equipment, land lease and access, social and cultural impacts, access to mineral data and information, value addition, infrastructure, and good governance and transparency.

Constraints in MSG countries are often reported as financial limits, limited institutional capacity, ambiguity in land tenure, the challenge
of effectively communicating mining on a scale previously unseen, remoteness of sites, inability to monitor and enforce compliance with legislation or approved environmental impact assessment effectively.
 
 Below is Minister Kubuabola's remarks:

 "Hon Chair,

I first wish to thank all the presenters for their comprehensive presentation. 

As a Group where most of the mining activities occur in the region, it is certainly becoming a major sector for our economy, and its contribution to the development of our countries cannot be overemphasised. However, as the presenters have alluded to, we believe that it is a sector that should only be advanced if it does not compromise the sustainability of our environment.  In this regard, it is imperative that we take all the necessary precautionary measures in advancing any exploration or mining activities in our individual countries.  This approach is important in addressing some of the key issues that are normally associated with mining activities such as: the environment, social and economic impact, compensation, the type fiscal regime, the opportunity cost in relation to the other sectors and livelihood of our people, infrastructure, etc.

In identifying these issues, it is apparent that we need clear and robust regulatory framework and policies to ensure proper compliance with high international standards. 

Hon Chairman,

In advancing our mining sector, we also need to review the relevant legislations pertaining to mining with a view to addressing all the key issues that I have alluded to, particularly the environment implications even at the prospecting stage. Our laws need to be amended and be aligned to the current laws on environment management.  In addition, we need capacity building for mining and environment regulators to ensure proper compliance and monitoring of our activities. With a more comprehensive approach, Strategic Environment Assessments of mining projects within a division or region should also be pursued as the cumulative impacts of mines are often more than those described in the Environment Impact Assessment reports. As a Group with most of the mining resources in the region, information sharing between our countries is critical for us to improve compliance and monitoring, which could be done through a clearing house mechanism - this is important to be part of the outcome of this meeting.

On the recommendations on Agenda item 11(a), we are of the view that it is important for the MSG to engage more closely in the advancement of the mining sector in our countries. We have a lot of experiences that we can share and learn from.  We have common issues that we need to address, and challenges that we need to rectify.  As a Group, we could only benefit a lot if we take a more consolidated approach in addressing all the pertinent issues relating to the mining sector.  In the context, we endorse all the recommendations contained in the issues paper on this Agenda Item."