28 Feb 2017

Vanuatu landowner awaits payment years after illegal mining

6:53 am on 28 February 2017

The landowner of a former mine in East Efate which stopped operation 39 years ago says he is still waiting to be paid.

After independence in 1980 Ben Kai of Epau village won a court case as the rightful owner of land which was being mined for manganese without his permission.

Mr Kai said during the 1970s he was a driver for the mining operator, LMV, which was owned by a Noumea-based Australian.

He said in 1978 the workers were called to an emergency meeting, paid for their final two weeks' work and told to go home.

He said the owner gave no reason for the company's closure nor did he pay severance money.

Mr Kai said the workers suspected the firm's owner was afraid there would be violence after the struggle for independence.

Tons of manganese were left sitting in the warehouse.