Plan for $40m ethanol plant
28 FEB 2008
A group of Chinese investors is considering setting up a FJ$40 million
plant to produce ethanol from cassava.
The Chinese entrepreneurs, who arrived in Fiji last week on a 10-day
visit, are also focussing on a low cost housing project and a hotel
project in the Mamanuca Group.
In a press conference, Sir James Ah Koy, Fiji's ambassador to China,
highlighted that if an ethanol plant is set up here it would need 30,000
tonnes of cassava a month and 360,000 tonnes a year roughly.
For this, the investors need to go into a joint venture with the
landowners for the supply of cassava, he suggested.
While the project could be financed 100 per cent by the Chinese, a JV is
also being sought for the setting up of the plant with the Fiji
Government (or whoever the government would nominate - the Native Land
Trust Board or the Fijian Affairs Board), he explained.
"Then we would have security of tenure, land and all that. But we are open."
"If the project gets the green signal, we can start the production in 15
months, which would give us the time to produce the required cassava,"
he added. The return on investment on this project would be four years.
He also suggested that the plant could be listed on the South Pacific
He believes the proposed project will provide jobs to the people of all
14 provinces. Since it is not necessary to have fresh cassava, people
can sell their produce even after 1-2 months.
"I really believe this is what we need. It is an economic saviour for
the indigenous Fijians in terms of land use, employment and earning
cash," Sir James, describing it as a fantastic project, said.
The investors are also looking at hotel sites in the Mamanucas and have
identified an island to build a hotel. The island is expected to cost
about $12m with the landowners getting 35 per cent of the purchase price.
The delegation also made a presentation to the Housing Authority to
build low cost housing to ease Fiji's increasing squatter problems.
$40m to save clans
Friday, February 29, 2008
TALKS are under way to build a $40-million factory to produce ethanol
And Sir James Ah Koy, Fiji's ambassador to China, sees this project as
an economic saviour for the indigenous Fijian people.
Sir James is in the country with a trade delegation from China that has
expressed interest in several ventures in Fiji.
He said while there was great interest from the media on the visit, he
could not divulge information on the project yet as it had to be
presented to Cabinet as a matter of courtesy.
"We've spoken to Cabinet ... yesterday (Wednesday) and it seems that we
have fallen on very receptive ears," he said.
"We're going to be making ethanol from cassava, not from sugar cane or
corn because we had in mind the acres of unused land that belong to
various yavusa and mataqali.
"My view is this industry, the green field industry, is that ethanol
industry will be an economic saviour for indigenous Fijians."
Sir James said the Ministry of Agriculture had toiled hard in the past
to find a market for cassava but this would no longer be a problem once
an ethanol plant was constructed.
He said the factory would consume 30,000 tonnes of cassava per month and
would produce 50,000 tonnes of ethanol annually.
Asked how much land was needed to plant the right number of cassava
plants to yield 30,000 tonnes per month, he said, "below 5000 hectares
Sir James said when initial studies were undertaken, it was thought that
16,000 tonnes of ethanol would be needed for local consumption and the
rest could be exported.
But, he said, Vilimone Vosarogo, the bio-engineer at the Biofuel Unit of
the Department of Energy, told him that 50,000 tonnes would be used locally.
Mr Vosarogo said over $1.2-billion was spent on importing fuel last year.
"It costs $40m to build the ethanol plant and this reduces the money
spent on fuel imports by 10 per cent," said Mr Vosarogo.
"So with the $1.2bn spent last year on fuel, $120m would be the
immediate savings with the use of ethanol.
"The 50,000 tonnes can be consumed locally because at the moment, we
have more than 80,000 cars in Fiji and 67 per cent of these can use
Mr Vosarogo said all cars made after 1992 and most imported cars could
use ethanol. He said ethanol production was not just for land transport
but for sea, air and use in generators.
Sir James said cassava was an easy crop to plant and did not require
He said they had met and made presentations to government branches,
including the Ministry of Transport, Fiji Electricity Authority, Fijian
Affairs Board and the Native Land Trust Board.
He said they were guided by the initial plan as the plant would require
a lot of water and some ideal sites could be found in Naitasiri, Tailevu
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