1 Feb 2007

Fiji gold miner tightlipped about possible return

9:00 pm on 1 February 2007

The Emperor Gold Mine company in Fiji is remaining tight-lipped about its intentions until it meets the interim administration next week.

The military-backed government has offered it a temporary exemption in its special mining lease in a bid to keep it operating in Fiji.

The company shut down the Vatakoula mine on December 5th, the day of the coup, leading to the loss of 1,700 jobs.

The exemption would allow the company to undertake a comprehensive exploration programme, and if successful, could see the mine re-open.

But company spokesman Patrick Bindon says key stakeholders must be consulted first.

"'It's fair to say that we do have some concerns over the situation in Fiji but really any definitive decision would have to come following, you know, appropriate discussions between the relevant stakeholders."

Mr Bindon says the company will announce its plans once officials have met with the chairman of the interim administration's negotiating committee, Parmesh Chand, on Monday.

Mr Chand's ruled out any chance of the mine being nationalised, saying the government does not run businesses.