1 Feb 2012

Fiji landowners shift stance on mining

4:22 pm on 1 February 2012

The head of Fiji's Naitisiri Provincial Council says a lowering of opposition from the owners of land earmarked for a potentially huge copper and gold mine near the capital Suva is not the result of government pressure.

Peni Sokia says Namosi and Naitisiri landowners are happy with the outcome of yesterday's meeting with the interim prime minister, who recently assumed responsibility for negotiations over the Namosi Joint Venture.

The partnership between the Australian mining company Newcrest and two Japanese companies is conducting exploratory work at the Waisoi site, something to which landowners had expressed strong opposition.

But Mr Sokia says they are now willing to consider allowing mining to proceed.

"This is what the government is trying to instil into them. But at the same time the government is wanting to listen to them and their concerns. So it all comes under that umbrella that they will only be willing to commit themselves to mining if all of their concerns are met."

Peni Sokia says the landowners' main concern is the rehabilitation of land damaged by the exploratory mining work.