THE Ministry of Lands wants to avoid conflict over land and mineral management.
Permanent secretary for Lands, Tevita Boseiwaqa said ensuring a balance between the managing of State-owned minerals and native land was crucial to economic growth.
"The land is owned by the natives and then you have the minerals owned by the State, and if they're not managed properly, there is bound to be conflicts," Mr Boseiwaqa said.
Mr Boseiwaqa said the State did not want a situation similar to the conflict that wreaked havoc in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, where factions fought over copper and gold. "This happened before in Bougainville, the violence that erupted there was clearly related to mining. So we really need to harmonise this," he stated.
"We want to ensure that while we are extracting minerals from these native-owned lands, we do not get into a confrontation with landowners over revenue."
He said the issue would be one of the important discussion points at the UN Development Program-organised Pacific symposium on managing extractive industries in Pacific Island States currently held at the Sofitel Resort and Spa in Nadi.
"These key issues will be discussed here and we'll try and come up with the best approaches on how to deal with them and hopefully, government and the Pacific will develop or formulate policies aligned with these issues particularly in trying to address them," he added.
UN resident co-ordinator, Knut Ostby said the extraction of natural resources and practices, if not managed properly could also be associated with the so-called resource curse.
"In countries and areas where this has not gone so well, we have seen economic decline, environmental degradation, political instability, exploding inequalities and domestic conflict," Mr Ostby said.