CONSTRUCTION of port facilities at Lautoka has begun for Australian company Amex Resources Limited, the miners of black sand magnetite at the Ba River delta.
Local contractors have been appointed by Lautoka-based WesEng Consulting Ltd to make roads and footpaths in the first step of a multi-million development that promises 300 full-time and 50 short-term jobs for locals.
The mining company's website revealed that once the access roads are completed, geotechnical testing of ground conditions would be conducted to "assist in final design of civil structures including the enclosed stockpile shed and related infrastructure."
Geotechnical tests are expected to be conducted by a Suva-based firm.
All the local involvement is testimony to a commitment by ARL to use local firms wherever possible throughout the construction and operational phases of the project.
ARL's Lautoka development is a vital link in the process of extracting iron ore from black sand at the Ba River Delta.
Using magnetic separation, ARL is looking to process 12million tonnes of black sand per annum and recover magnetite iron-sand. The company promises to minimise the environmental impact of dredging the sand by rehabilitating the sand tailings immediately to the lagoonal and inter-tidal sand flats at the delta.
The ironsand concentrate will then be barged to the ARL facility at the Lautoka Port where salt water will be removed by a washing process. The ironsand will then be dried and stockpiled in a storage facility awaiting export.
Director Mineral Department Malakai Finau said the establishment of ARL's mining concern in Lautoka and Ba would benefit the country in many ways.
"We'll get increased revenue through taxation because Amex Resources will have to pay corporate tax plus royalty payments of 3 per cent," said Mr Finau.