FIJI GOVERNMENT RAISES CONCERN OVER MINE SALE

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, April 3) – Fiji's Interim Administration has sought a meeting with the management of Emperor Mines Limited to sort out details of a Rehabilitation and Social Assistance Deed.

The deed affects the sale of EML's Vatukoula gold mine to Australian company Westech Gold Pty Ltd.

At a press conference in Suva today, Interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said little information has been provided about Westech Gold.

"We are concerned that it may have only nominal paid capital and little in the way of immediately available resources to call upon to fund working capital or indeed to fund any capital expansion, meet liabilities and the like," he said. "Information provided by Westech so far as to the manner in which it will fund the project is positive but substantially lacking in detail."

Sayed-Khaiyum said the government wants to look at issues like royalties, taxes and monies to meet redundancy obligations to employees in the deed of settlement.

Emperor Mines has agreed to contribute FJ$1 million [US$613,000] to a Rehabilitation Trust Fund while Westech has agreed to allocate $5 million by way of three equal installments.

The government has also been requested to pay FJ$600,000 [US$368,000] into the fund and fully release Emperor from any breaches of the Mining Act and the Mining Lease.

Sayed-Khaiyum said government was asked to give consent to the sale of the shares to Westech, warrant that it will not impose any additional requirements on the transaction (such as taxes or any further consents or authorisations) and waive sovereign immunity.

He added that a lot of people are concerned about the developments at Vatukoula and the Interim Government will seek their views on the sale.

Non-government organisations like the Citizens Constitutional Forum and the Vatukoula Mine Workers Union want to know the finer details of the sale and what impact it will have in addressing the social and economic concerns of mine workers, their families and the Vatukoula/Tavua community at large.

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