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Community leaders changing minds after meeting with PM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 1, 2012) – The chief executive of Fiji’s Naitisiri Province says the owners of land that’s the site of a potentially huge copper and gold mine near the capital Suva are happy with the outcome of yesterday’s meeting with the interim prime minister.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama recently assumed responsibility for negotiations over the Namosi Joint Venture, a partnership between the Australian mining company Newcrest and two Japanese companies.

Exploratory work is being conducted at the Waisoi site, something to which Namosi and Naitisiri landowners have expressed strong opposition.

[PIR editor’s note: Naitasiri provincial officials have said that government pressure has not been the cause for community approval of the proposed Namosi Joint Venture project. According to provincial authorities, the landowners' main concerns are the rehabilitation of theirs lands after damage caused by exploratory work.]

But the Roko Tui Natisiri, Peni Sokia, says that work will proceed as soon as the landowners are satisfied their environmental concerns have been addressed.

"The landowners have raised their concerns and the government is going to work with the landowners to take these concerns to the Namosi Joint Venture and see that they are happy with the outcome before any other movement is made towards this development in the Namosi Joint Venture."

Peni Sokia says Commodore Bainimarama has delegated his authority to a government team that includes the landowners.

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