Demanding Fair Share: Landowners Push for Changes in Mineral Resource Development

The Government faces numerous challenges ahead if it aims to meet the demands of landowning units regarding mineral resource development.

Recently, landowners from Navuniivi, Ra, and Namosi have articulated their expectations to the Government concerning mineral resources. Landowners in Navuniivi have expressed dissatisfaction with the ongoing publication of their land for mineral exploration. In Namosi, where copper exploration is ongoing, landowners are demanding a 50 percent share in decision-making for mineral development activities.

Meanwhile, in Votua Village, Ba, where iron ore extraction is taking place, landowning units are calling for 100 percent of the royalty shares. They argue that they bear the negative impacts of these projects. Alternatively, the villagers said the Government could lower its share of royalties to increase the percentage allocated to landowners.

Amex Resources Limited, holding a 21-year mining lease since 2012, has been extracting iron sands from the Ba River delta, owned by the vanua o Votua. The villagers of Ba have submitted a request under the Mineral Exploitation and Exploration Bill for an increase in their royalty share from 80 percent to 90 percent, reducing the Government’s share from 20 percent to 10 percent.

“The Government can always find other incentives from mining companies given the application fee set by the department to obtain licences and permits,” Votua landowning units stated.

**Devil In The Detail**

According to Votua villagers, developers in the mineral resource sector must collaborate with the Government to provide trade education to villagers as part of the mineral resource development process on their land. They also expect the Government to acknowledge their investment plans in relation to mineral development projects.

“The notice of renewal of licence must be enlarged into a bigger font to enable readers to understand and to be aware of any current situation,” the villagers requested.


Currently, there is ambiguity around royalty calculation and a lack of specific guidelines. The Fair Share of Mineral Royalties Act 201811 mandates that “any royalty must be distributed with 20 percent going to the government, and 80 percent to the owner.”

Landowners have pointed out issues regarding the unequal distribution of royalties among villagers. “For a period of 12 years during the operation of the licence, they have not received the full benefit,” the landowners noted.

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