The Waisoi Project is a copper and gold project located in the Namosi and Naitasiri provinces (Tikina Waidina), approximately 30 kilometres west of Suva.The Waisoi area is bounded by the Wainavadu River valley in the north, the Waidina River in the east and south and by the Korobasabasaga Range in the west.The Namosi Joint Venture (NJV) is conducting studies and exploration to determine if a copper mine with gold by products can be developed at Waisoi.If a mine at Waisoi can be developed and operated economically and at an appropriate environmental, social and safety standard, it will bring significant economic opportunities and other benefits to the local and wider Fiji community.
The Waisoi Project, if approved and developed would include open pit mining to produce a copper concentrate with gold by products for export. The key mine infrastructure would include two open pits, tailings and waste rock storage facilities, a power station and processing plant, administration camp and access roads.
The Namosi Joint Venture (NJV) is undertaking extensive technical studies to determine whether it is possible to develop and mine the two ore bodies at Waisoi.
The NJV estimates a mine life of approximately 20-25 years, depending on the annual production rate. The mine life would also depend on the extent to which minable reserves may change in the future subject to on-going exploration and economic factors.
The mine would be constructed and operated under strict environmental conditions imposed by the Government. Environment, social and cultural heritage management plans would be developed for the construction and operational stages and a mine rehabilitation plan would be developed in consultation with the government and local community.
The proposed Waisoi mine will not use any part of the Sovi River Basin for mining or related infrastructure. The current plans show that mine tailings would be stored in a purpose-built tailings storage facility on the Wainavadu River which is a completely separate river system that flows into the Waidina River some 17 or 18 kilometres upstream of where the Sovi River joins the Waidina River.
The NJV is fully supportive of the Sovi River Basin being protected and it would welcome the opportunity to work with local communities and other stakeholders on the best way to conserve this area.
If the government approves the project and the NJV decides to build the mine, construction would take approximately two and a half years and would include:
- Building of administration and processing facilities, road and telecommunication infrastructure and other utilities like water and wastewater treatment facilities
- Development of the open pit mines and waste storage/disposal facilities
- Development of a construction stage environmental management plan.
The Waisoi Project is in the exploration and pre-feasibility stage. No mining is currently taking place.
The Namosi Joint Venture (NJV) is undertaking a pre-feasibility study to examine the costs and other impacts of the Waisoi Project in sufficient detail to allow a decision on whether it can proceed. Key elements include:
- Engineering studies on the mine and infrastructure
- Geotechnical assessments for safety of structures
- Optimising the location, size and capacity of key items
- Risk and safety assessments
- Environmental baseline, impact and mitigation studies
- Social impact and socio-economic baseline studies
- Discussion and negotiation with key stakeholders such as landowners, government and others
- Assessment of project costs, risks and economics.
Environmental Impact Assessment
The NJV has commenced an independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to identify and assess the potential social and environmental impacts of a mine at Waisoi in accordance with the Governmentâ€™s EIA Terms of Reference and the Environment Management Act 2005.
The EIA will help the Government decide if a mine at Waisoi can be built in an environmentally acceptable manner.
Following the Governmentâ€™s decision, the NJV will determine if the Waisoi mine can be operated safely and economically and in an environmentally sustainable way.
The Waisoi Project is already delivering a range of local community and government benefits from its exploration and study activities, including:
- Local jobs in a range of exploration and other roles with flow on increases in spending
- Upgrades to local roads and bridges and community facilities
- Education scholarships for over 500 local students to undertake tertiary education
- Government revenue from employee and corporate taxes and fees.
If a mine at Waisoi can be developed, it will bring significant opportunities and benefits to the local and wider Fiji community, including:
- Around 2,000 construction jobs and approximately 1,000 operational jobs, with flow on increases in spending
- Community development, education and training programs
- Investment in universities and training institutions
- Business opportunities for local suppliers and contractors
- Local infrastructure projects
- Government revenue from taxes and minerals extraction royalties.