8 Feb 2007

Fiji challenges Emperor over Vatakoula closure

4:06 pm on 8 February 2007

Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says the Emperor Gold Mining Company must meet all its obligations and cannot be allowed to just run away.

The company closed down its mine Vatukoula on the day of the coup on December 5th last year and made over 1,700 workers redundant.

It then applied for and received a further exploration licence but announced this week that it will sell the mine with five companies reported to be interested.

Commodore Bainimarama says Emperor must play its part and give what is due, and not leave redundant workers just like that.

The Fijilive news website quotes Commodore Bainimarama as saying the interim administration has asked the Emperor company to deposit an undisclosed sum of money in a trust fund to develop a decommissioning and mine closure plan.

Two years ago the Emperor company raised millions of dollars by telling the Sydney Stock Exchange that there were many years of gold ore reserves at the Vatukoula prospect.

South Africa's DRD gold mining company bought Emperor at about that time and followed it up by buying two of Papua New Guinea's largest gold mines.