Before Labasa was even a town, Malau was a port and even nearby Vuo had a hospital. Overseas ships came in to load sugar and today there also a Shell depot there, and storeage for sugar from the Labasa Mill. Malau is still one of the major ports in Fiji. Malau is really a rocky point and houses of staff are built up the hillsides above the mill.
In the early 70s I had a bit to do with the timber mill there, Fiji Forest Industries, which we were told was based in Australia. I had a logging contract as part of our family development projects. We had a 7 ton truck and a concession to log timber at Matana mountain. The timber was dakua and kauvula species. We encountered problems of heavy rainfall, having to make the roads ourselves so we had to hire bulldozers etc.
Today, the mill produces sawn timber and decorative plywood for overseas markets. Some of my relatives work there including men from Mali Island. One good result is that timber from Malau is used for many building projects in the villages and Labasa town.
However everything is not perfect there. Even though the mills gives employment, we can see with our own eyes that the mill leaves so much rubbish around, floating in the sea and lying along the coastline. The other question is cutting the timber and what effects that has on erosion and spoiling several rivers, Dreketi, Tabia, Wailevu and Labasa. Some of the landowners in Macuata are not happy because of the timber concessions, promises not fulfilled, and a perception of exploitation.