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SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 27) – Fiji Pine Ltd says it plans to create at least 500 jobs in Bua next year with the setting up of a lumber mill after the construction of a port at Wairiki.

Company general manager George Vuki said groundwork has begun on the construction of a sawmill and chip mill in Bua to process and market pine from Vanua Levu.

He said this would be a milestone achievement as the company would be able to realize the full potential of resources on Vanua Levu.

The Government has allocated $10 million (US$6 million) for the construction of the port.

Mr Vuki said the company was planning to harvest 150,000 tons of pine logs from its plantations on Vanua Levu and process it at the new mill.

He said private plantation owners were expected to supply 50,000 tons of pine annually.

"Since the commencement of its subsidiary, Tropik Wood Industries Limited in 1987, logging has been concentrated on Viti Levu only and the company has been operating at 60 percent of its potential,"Vuki said. "This new project means an increase in revenue for the company and employment for the rural sector, especially in Bua Province. The group expects direct employment of approximately 250 people in the forestry sector business, including the mill, harvesting crews, logging trucks and machine operators. The multiplier effect arising from other businesses as a result of the development expects the total employment number to increase to more than 500."

He said the company hopes the development will be a catalyst for other developments in the province which is one of the most under developed provinces in Fiji despite its richness in forestry and fisheries resources.

"The landowners of Bua and Macuata will be involved like their Viti Levu counterparts in the development of the forests and the mill.

December 27, 2004

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