14 Apr 2006

Fiji gold mine shuts down threatening two thousand jobs

10:17 am on 14 April 2006

Fiji's only gold mine at Vatukoula has shut down for the first time in 70 years, leaving the future of nearly 2,000 workers in doubt.

Fiji TV reports that the closure from yesterday is part of the Emperor Gold Mining Company's restructure plan as it tries to shed workers to return the mine to profitability.

The workers will be told next week whether they will have jobs or be made redundant.

A letter to all employees from Emperor's chief operations officer, Andre Lebuschagne, says the company has lost 23-million US dollars in the last 21 months and all operations have been stopped for six months.

Mr Lebuschagne says Emperor had the opportunity to close down, form a new company and hire new workers, but has chosen not to do this.

He says if the restructure does not receive support, the mine could close down permanently.