Amex Resources has officially handed over its Lautoka Port site to First Harbour Consultants for the construction of a new mine port facility.
This will include a berth, washing plant, stockpile area, ship-loading infrastructure, workshops, offices and barge unloading facility for the Australian-headquartered mineral exploration company, the first in Fiji to produce and export mined, iron sand.
“This new wharf and ship-loading facility is the chief part of Amex Resources’ $200 million investment and which I understand is specifically designed for the export of the mineral,” said Faiyaz Koya, Minister of Lands & Mineral Resources at the handover ceremony.
“Iron sand is used to create steel and is very popular, particularly in the growing economies of the world. We have healthy deposits of it here in Fiji, but we must carefully consider all aspects of mining for such a resource, including its environmental impacts before the mining lease is granted.
“Albeit given the lease three years ago, I am happy to mention that Amex has continued to meet the compliance requirements, so Government is willing to partner with them for mutual gain, in our respect, economic returns and investment and in Amex’s case, a steady supply of this sought-after mineral.”
Amex has invested $165 million over the past eight years to develop Fiji’s first iron ore mine, with exports to be facilitated at Lautoka, the country’s largest export point for bulk cargo.
“This million- dollar project located here in the province of Ba is a much welcome one, as it further develops existing infrastructure, while also constructing new ones in the form of a new wharf and ship-loading infrastructure, to export Fiji’s first-ever mined iron sand,” Koya noted.
Aside from considerable export revenue, this pursuit of iron sand has also been a convenient point for Government efforts to dredge the Ba River and reduce its flooding impact during the wet season.
The Chinese, state-owned First Harbour Consultants specializes in port design and construction and is expected to complete Amex’ port facility and marine fleet by May 2018.
This construction period is expected to increase Amex’ workforce to an additional 250 local employees- both skills and unskilled- in Ba and Lautoka.
“Of course, this does not include the various flow-on benefits it will have on employment and economic activity in the province of Ba and across Fiji as local suppliers and contractors will be required over the coming 12 months. This infrastructural development and iron sand mining project will indeed provide benefits to both Fiji and Amex over the projected term of the project,” Koya added.
Representing a $180 million investment, the construction of these facilities- alongside the purchase of a specialized marine fleet- is in addition to the $25 million that Amex has already spent on exploration and other related work leading up to its new port construction, combing the delta of the Ba River mouth, between Raviravi and Vatutavui from its field base at Sorokaba, as part of its Mba Delta Ironsand Magnetite Project.
These resources are predominantly found in tidal flats at the mouth of the Ba River and fully held by Amex under a special mining lease issued in June 2012, for a 21-year period.
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