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Follow Protocol, Tui Wailevu Tells ‘Noisy Landowner’ On Mount Kasi

“They are politicising the process – lured by money.”
18 May 2021 11:04
Follow Protocol, Tui Wailevu Tells ‘Noisy Landowner’ On Mount Kasi
Tui Wailevu, Ratu Jovesa Maivalili.

A district chief who governs Mount Kasi, yesterday lashed out at a landowner who stirred up a commotion about a mining contract for the site.

“Follow protocol – he’s out of line,” Tui Wailevu, Ratu Jovesa Maivalili said.

“They are politicising the process – lured by money.”

He was referring to Emori Bukadina, a villager of Dawara, who openly objected to a Government decision to award the Mt Kasi contract to Vatukoula Gold Mines.

“Money is a good motive, but a bad master,” Ratu Jovesa said.

Mr Bukadina said he owned the access route to Mt Kasi, which he would not allow Vatukoula Gold Mines to pass through.

He said his clan wanted Aquilo Gold, an Australian company, to mine the site.

Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere is the only Fijian director on the board.

Mr Bukadina was earlier referred to by an industry official as a “noisy landowner.”

Chinese

Vatukoula Gold Mines is owned and operated by Chinese investors.

They have pumped millions of dollars into revitalising the old Vatukoula mine which now operates profitably and employs 1500, almost all locals.

Mr Bukadina said the Mineral Resources Department has been in touch with him since.

He is expected to meet with department representatives when COVID-19 travel restrictions ease. Vatukoula Gold Mines won the Mt Kasi tender ahead of seven other applicants of the international bid.

Mr Bukadina based his objections to Chinese developers on claims of compensation, land use and labour conditions. Ratu Jovesa’s objectives centred on implementation processes. “The Chinese have good ideas – but implementation is not,” he said.

“I’ve spent my life in mineral exploration – I believe, after all I’ve seen, it’s too risky to bring the Chinese. “But right now, the point is about breaking protocol.”

Overstepping authority

Ratu Jovesa said: “He (Mr Bukadina) should have come to me.

“He broke protocol. “He must come to me – if he doesn’t, I wash my hands clean of him.”

Ratu Jovesa said in spite of past experience surrounding Mt Kasi, people had not learnt.

“I went to visit the people at Dawara where I told them about the fruits of their labour – the mine had been developed over decades, with nothing to show for it where the village development was concerned.”

Ratu Jovesa said: “I don’t know what they take me for, by going ahead to do their own thing. “They do things without recognising me.

“They bulldozed their way through this. “The village of Dawara is so run down, because the people are so easily influenced by misinformation.

“In such situations, the real landowners remain silent.”

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj

 



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