OUTGOING Lands Minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa says bauxite mining had negative impacts on natural ecosystems because of failure in monitoring systems.
Speaking during an interview, Mrs Vuniwaqa said negative impacts of bauxite mining included dust emissions and the dirtying of waterways, which needed to be strictly monitored by the Mineral Resources Department.
Mrs Vuniwaqa said since bauxite mining was new the ministry initially found it hard to monitor mining works, adding that it was better with it now.
“It has been a learning project and we have learnt very fast in bauxite mining because of the objections to it,” she said. “The company mining bauxite at the initial site in Bua is now replanting trees after mining, which is part of their licensing conditions. They need to fulfil it before they leave the country.”
Mrs Vuniwaqa said mining at the first site had been completed adding that the mining company had a 20-year lease over the land.
“They mined for seven to eight years and if you go there now you will find it green,” she said. “As per the conditions of the licences they plant things that were there before they began mining and the idea now is to plant pine.”