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SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 12) – The Emperor Gold Mine will pay out a total of FJ$9.5 million [US$5.6 million] in redundancy packages for out-of-work miners.

The company said it had already paid out FJ$4.5 million [US$2.6 million] in wages to workers since they had been laid off last month.

It said it would pay out another FJ$5 million [US$2.9 million] as part of the deal it promised workers when it closed the mine at Vatukoula on December 5.

General manager Frazer Bourchier said the parent company in Australia would make the final payment in a fortnight. "This will be done as soon as the company can source the funds and send it across to Fiji," he said.

He said the final payment would include a week's pay for every year of service.

"It will be made in about two weeks as a lump sump," he said.

Mr Frazer said the company had been paying 1,600 workers their redundancy packages since mid-December.

"We have been paying consistently in weekly installments ever since that date to all employees made redundant."

The company has already paid a week's notice to hourly paid workers and two months notice for staff. It has paid hourly paid workers an additional seven weeks pay for redundancy and all the accrued benefits, including leave and sick leave.

Mr Bourchier said the payment deposited directly into the personal bank accounts of workers.

He said as EGM pursued selling off, it was continuing to meet employee and other obligations.

"The parent company has offered to discuss these obligations with the Government."

Last week Cabinet redirected $600,000 from the National Service Scheme to fund a rehabilitation program for the redundant Vatukoula miners.

Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama had said in a press conference the key areas of the rehabilitation program were farming, self-employment, small business development, targeted skills training and other alternative livelihood opportunities.

He said the Emperor Gold Mining Company Limited had announced a proposal to sell its operations at Vatukoula.

"Government respects the right of the EGM Company to sell its business. However they must first meet all obligations as described in the negotiating package between EGM and government," the interim administration said.

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