20 Dec 2005

Copper mining likely in Fiji's Namosi province

9:11 am on 20 December 2005

A Japanese company, Nittetsu Mining, says it is optimistic of being able to mine copper in Fiji's Namosi province, 50 kilometres west of Suva.

The Fiji Sun reports that this follows the discovery of higher grades of copper ore than what had been previously found at Waisoi where a small mine had ceased operating 30 years ago.

Nittetsu Mining's economic geologist and exploration manager, Takayuki Tanaka, says the price of copper is going up on the international market because of demand from China, Japan, India and other parts of Asia.

Mr Tanaka says research is still going on, on the better grades of ore found at Waisoi and it will take some time before a feasibility study for mining can be completed.

But concerns are being raised by local villagers about the environmental impact of mining in the fragile Waisoi valley because of the need to dispose of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of mine waste.