The sugar city of Lautoka should see its economic base increase in 2019 with the Amex Resources Limited’s Mba Delta Ironsands Project facility to open early next year.
The $355 million project should increase economic activities at the Lautoka Wharf area once operations get underway and super cargo ships start arriving to take the ironsands to export markets.
The project got underway in early February 2017 with the building of major facilities including the massive processing structure where the concentrate would be processed before the end product is shipped.
This year marked the arrival of the fleet of vessels that would mine, process and deliver the ironsands from the mouth of the Ba River.
These includes the Floating Concentrator, named Koronubu , which cost US$9.2 m (FJ$ 19.10m), the Bucket Wheel Dredge, named TilivaBukuya Star and cost USD$8.1 million, the Pusher Tug, named Sonic which cost US$2m (FJ$4m), a Work Boat, named Waratah, which cost US$1.8m (FJ$3.73m) and barges, named TuragaTolu, Gusuni Tuba, CakauCoko and Lumubati which all cost in total.
Amex was awarded a Special Mining Lease in 2012 to mine magnetite sand deposits from within the Ba delta region, the Mba Delta Ironsand projects.
Works also include the transit base at the Nailaga Dredge Depot.
Former Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya said when carrying out the groundbreaking the project was conducted in a sustainable manner and that things were done the right way.
The approval to dredge the navigational channel was finally given about two months ago and work was expected to begin in the coming days.
Most of the buildings at the Amex site are either complete or nearing completion.
The fleet of vessels that would be involved in extracting the ironsands from the mouth of the Ba River was already in place to begin work.
The company’s Mba Delta ironsands orebody occurs as a simple flat-lying blanket of fine to coarse magnetite-bearing black sand, approximately 15 kilometres long by up to four kilometres wide. It is located on the tidal and sub-tidal flats of the delta.
This lies at the mouth of the Ba River and is bordered by a sparsely-populated agricultural area.
Amex applied to the Mineral Resources Department for a prospecting licence in August 2008 and since then has proved up the orebody through numerous phases of exploration and development activities.
The deposit lies in a shallow lagoon, which has minimal current and wave activity. It is ideally suited to extraction by conventional dredging methods, planned at a rate of 12 million tonnes annually over the next 20 years.
Bulk carrier vessels of Handymax size will berth at Amex’s sole-use wharf facility at regular intervals to accept cargoes of up to 60,000 tonnes capacity via the purpose-built ship loader facility, for export to China.