SUNBIZ

Mt Kasi: Cakaudrove Provincial Council To Investigate Concerns

The company must now apply for a special prospecting licence which has a prescribed timeframe of 90 days within which they must meet all requirements.
15 May 2021 15:38
Mt Kasi: Cakaudrove Provincial Council To Investigate Concerns
Part of Vatukoula Gold Mines.

A team from the Cakaudrove Provincial Council will travel to Dawara Village in Wailevu next week to investigate a landowner’s concerns surrounding the mining of Mount Kasi.

Roko Tui Cakaudrove, Filimoni Naiqumu, made the comment when contacted by SunBiz yesterday.

“We need to find out,” Mr Naiqumu said, adding that the matter was news to him.

Vatukoula Gold Mines was awarded the tender for Mt Kasi, in an annoucnement earlier this month.

The company must now apply for a special prospecting licence which has a prescribed timeframe of 90 days within which they must meet all requirements. But some landowners of Mt Kasi said they would not allow Vatukoula Gold Mines on the site.

They are linked to an unsuccessful applicant. One of the conditions of meeting the special prospecting licence requires meeting with and holding discussions with landowners.

Landowner Emori Bukadina, of mataqali Naveitokaki, said they would not allow Vatukoula Gold Mines access.

Mr Bukadina is a landowner of the access route to Mount Kasi. His reasons behind the opposition against Vatukoula Gold Mines included not wanting Chinese investors and allegations about Batukoula Gold Mines.

Mr Bukadina said members of mataqali Naveitokaki, Dawara, Wailevu West, did not recognise Vatukoula Gold Mines as the successful winner of the international bid for Mt Kasi.

SunBiz had asked Mr Bukadina to provide proof of his traditional position on the matter.

Mr Bukadina said he was unable to as the relevant documents were located in his village. He said he was not in his village at the time.

However, the Cakaudrove Provincial Council office and the Mineral Resources Department say they are aware of him.

Aquilo Gold According to Mr Bukadina, the mataqali Naveitotaki want Aquilo Gold to develop the mine.

One of four directors of Aquilo Gold is prominent businessmanTui Macuata, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere.

He is the only Fijian on the board. Aquilo Gold is a joint venture company that partnered with Australian mineral engineering company Mincore Pty Ltd, to bid for Mt Kasi.

Aquilo Gold was established in 2019 with the primary purpose of mining Mt Kasi.

The tender was later won by Vatukoula Gold Mines. A redress application soon followed.

Redress The redress delayed Vatukoula Gold Mines moves to apply for a special prospecting licence for Mount Kasi.

Vatukoula Gold Mines is awaiting direction from the Mineral Resources Department on the next course of action.

Chinese investors have pumped millions of dollars into revitalising Vatukoula.

The mine now employs 1500, almost entirely local.

Mincore Aquilo Gold director Cameron Bain is also the founder and managing director for Melbournebased Mincore.

Mincore fomed a joint venture with Aquilo Gold to bid for Mt Kasi bid.

Mr Bain said: “Mincore is aware that the Fiji Sun is publishing a story concerning the landowners near Mt Kasi and Vatukoula Gold Mines.

“We understand that the landowners have been in discussion with the Mineral Resources Department (MRD) and other government agencies about their preferred development for Mt Kasi and preferred development partners.

“The landowners and the government are working together to reach a suitable outcome for sustainable development of their land.”

Mineral Resources Department According to Mr Bain: “The Mt Kasi landowners have been open and honest in their dealings with the Mineral Resources Department about their development preferences for the Mt Kasi gold project. “This has been known to the MRD since January 2020, and throughout the tender process starting in July 2020.”

Several attempts to contact Tui Wailevu, Ratu Jovesa Maivalili, were unsuccessful. Mr Naiqumu said the team will need to establish Mr Bukadina’s claims.

“He’s a good guy,” Mr Naiqumu said. Cakaudrove provincial administrator, Setareki Dakuiboca, said the matter was news to him.

Vatukoula In another development, operations at Vatukoula Gold Mines continue as normal as the company pushes ahead to meet its quarterly targets.

“We still manage our operations even with 150 of 1500 workers away from work for COVID-related travel restrictions,”

Vatukoula Gold Mines general manager Yi Yuang said yesterday. Workers were told to adhere to strict COVID-19 protocol at all levels of the mine operations, he said.

“We don’t encourage them to come to work if they show the slightest signs of sickness,” Mr Yi said.

“We can’t afford any COVID-positive cases in our company, given the scale of our operations. “We want to avoid all of that. “We are cautious.”

Vatukoula Gold Mines has maintained its silence over developments surrounding the opposition against the company’s successful bid for Mt Kasi.

They referred queries to the Mineral Resources Department. Mineral Resources Department acting director Raymond Mohammed said there was nothing further to say as the tender had closed.

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.fj

 



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