I was interested to read one article in the Fiji Sun which is not biased towards a spin view pro mining, so it's worth publishing here. Though it's not about babasiga land, it is relevant to any place in Fiji where a mining company comes into Fiji to make money in this way.
Namosi EIA terms
January 25, 2012 | Filed under: Business | Posted by: newsroom
What Namosi landowers say are drill sumps dug by the Namosi Joint Venture to try and contain the overflow. Photo: Courtesy of TIKINA NAMOSI LANDOWNERS COMMITTEE
By RACHNA LAL
While tension continues to build up over the proposed multi-billion dollar Namosi copper and gold mine, the terms of reference for the environmental impact assessment has been finalised.
This has been confirmed to the Fiji Sun by the director of the Department of Environment Jope Davetanivalu.
Mr Davetanivalu, while not revealing the contents of the terms of reference, said the final version has been handed over to the relevant authorities.
The Tikina Namosi Landowners Committee, however, yesterday expressed their concerns about the contents of the terms of reference. Committee spokesman Sipiriano Nariva said they had not expected to receive the final draft until some form of feedback had been sought from the landowners. “We made just one submission and the next thing we were informed was that this is the final terms of reference. We are major stakeholders in this who will be affected should mining go ahead. We need to have our voice taken into consideration,” he said.
Exploration works by the Australian mining company, Newcrest Mining which leads the Namosi Joint Venture in partnership with Japanese interests, have been stopped by the landowners.
Mr Nariva said the reason for their concern was, since their submission for the terms of reference last year, the landowners had gained a better understanding of mining.
He said this was why it was important for the landowners to give more feedback in terms of what more was needed to be included in the terms of reference. Pointing out some of the things believed to be vague in the terms of reference, Mr Nariva said one such line was where it said: ‘Prediction of environmental, social and economic impacts are based on scientifically supported studies’.
Mr Nariva stressed that scientifically supported studies have been proven worldwide to have failed in certain areas. “So why is it that we have to depend on scientifically proven studies,” he said. Another loophole he pointed out in the terms of reference was: ‘A description of the possible environmental and resource management impact of the project’. Mr Nariva said environmental impact cannot and should not be based on possibilities; it has to be precise.
Another section in the terms of reference says there should be a description of all historical and project-related public consultation activities.
To this, Mr Nariva questioned: “For consultations, have they consulted people in the Province of Naitasiri, Rewa and Tailevu? “These are the people who rely on the Waidina River which comes through Namosi and joins the Rewa River. These people use the river for their living and would surely be affected,” he said.
The committee gave as an example of their early concerns how during exploration work the Namosi Joint Venture had dug a sump to dispose toxic waste in and carried on until the landowners pointed it out it was overflowing. They said the Namosi Joint Venture then dug another sump to dispose from the initial one. This led to more spill, the landowners claimed. They said the Namosi Joint Venture then had to bring in waste recyclers to clean up the mess.
To support their views on this the Tikina Namosi Landowners Committee provided a series of photos of what they said is the negative impact of exploration work on their land.
Meanwhile, the Namosi Joint Venture has so far been reluctant to enter into a public debate with the landowners. Instead it has consistently maintained that it is consulting directly with the landowners and Government through a jointly agreed process. It stressed there was an environmental impact assessment process underway.
The assessment process includes extensive consultation with nearby villages and other impacted or interested stakeholders, it said. Proper studies will decide whether a mine can be developed safely and economically and in an environmentally sustainable manner, the Namosi Joint Venture said.