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Fiji Time: 4:27 PM on Wednesday 16 April

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Bauxite complaints

Serafina Silaitoga
Friday, November 23, 2012

A GROUP of landowners in the bauxite mining area in Bua revealed in a survey that they were not part of a decision to begin the mining process.

The survey conducted by the Bua Urban Youth Network in Nawailevu this year showed 20 per cent of respondents felt they were involved in the decision to mine.

The results were also published in the Papua New Guinea Mine Watch newsletter.

The landowners noted there was a general perception that being physically present in the meeting room where discussions took place meant that the concerned person was involved in the decision.

Of the 76 per cent of respondents who said they were not included in the decision to mine, most were women, youths and older males from outside the landowning unit.

However, mine manager Basilio Vanuaca said members of the landowning units who said they did not know or did not participate in the decision to give their land for the mining must have developed amnesia.

"I say this because for them to give their land up, they must all sign a document giving their land to the Land Unit," he said.

"The mining company does not with the landowners. The Land Unit receives a request from the landowners in Nawailevu (Naicobo mataqali, Noro and Nalutu) as the Land Bank Decree states that all landowning units whether in Fiji or overseas must put their approval to paper and send their consent to the Land Unit before the Land Bank does its search to ensure these signatories are for real and that there is no false declaration by anyone."

Mr Vanuaca said those who claimed they were unaware of land being given up for development, must question whether they received lease money.

"They all received payments of lease money and will continue to receive them as work continues," he said.

The survey showed 61 per cent of respondents had no awareness at all of the social impact of mining and 29 per cent felt they had little awareness of the issue.

Only 8 per cent of respondents felt they were very aware of the social impact of mining in a community.