11 Jul 2007

Australian company threatens to withdraw interest in Fiji goldmine

10:29 am on 11 July 2007

The Australian company which has been negotiating to take over Fiji's closed down Vatukoula gold mine, has threatened to withdraw its interest if an amicable solution is not reached this month.

The Fiji Times reports that this has been confirmed by the interim attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who says cabinet has given Westech until Friday to submit its proposal.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says cabinet wants the plan to look into concessions and waivers.

The Westech proposal offers to reimburse the government for fuel costs, and outstanding remuneration for contract labourers maintaining the mine, as well as contribute 3-point-6 million US dollars to a rehabilitation trust fund.

In exchange, Westech has asked the government to issue a certificate of exemption under mining regulations for any actual or previous infraction or non-compliance with certain leases and site rights.

It also wants the government to waive royalty payments for three years after gold production starts, with future royalties to be calculated at 3% and no import duty or Value Added Tax to be payable on any equipment imported for mining operations.

The company also wants to be exempted from paying export tax on its gold for five years.