10 Apr 2007

Fiji's Vatukoula mine could be producing gold again next month

6:51 pm on 10 April 2007

Fiji's shut down Vatukoula mine could be producing gold again as early as next month and underground mining could resume by June.

Fiji TV reports that this is the forecast from Westech Gold which is in the final stages of buying the mine from Australia's Emperor Gold Mining Company.

Westech's director, Brian Wesson, who was chief engineer at the Vatukoula mine in the 1990s, says he has nothing to do with Emperor now.

Mr Wessen says he had resigned from Emperor because he believed the company's management style and strategy were seriously flawed and going on a path that would result in failure.

He says Westech has also identified serious underground faults in the mine, particularly the leakage of hot water from structures that were not properly sealed during past operations.

Westech has identified financiers in London and Hong Kong to help restart the mine.

Meanwhile, Fiji's interim government as put the transfer of the gold mine on hold until both Westech and Emperor provide more information about how they will fund liabilities incurred from past operations.

In another development, an organisation calling itself the Pro-Interim Government Supporters Group has commended the interim administration's action.

Its spokesman, Fred Caine, says Fiji has been paying Emperor to take its gold, degrade and destroy the environment with cyanide and other harmful chemicals and provide a despicable level of housing and amenities to its workers.