6 Dec 2006

Political instability not a factor in closure of Fiji gold mine

9:42 am on 6 December 2006

Fiji's only gold mine closed down without warning yesterday, leaving 1,730 workers without jobs.

The move caught the trade union movement and the workers by surprise.

In a statement, the Emperor Gold Mining Company said it was shutting down operations because of continued losses by the company.

It said the current political instability had nothing to do with its decision.

The general secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Felix Anthony, says the decision came as a shock because there had been no prior warning that the mine would be shut down.

The company had not held any talks with the FTUC or the Mine Workers Union before making the announcement.

The mayor of the nearby town of Tavua, Chandra Singh, says close to 5.000 people will be pushed into extreme poverty as no remedy is in sight.

The gold mine has been operating since 1937 and has been the major employer in Tavua.