Fiji Government Closes Gold Mine To Carry Out Full Audit

Vatukoula mine's underground operations under scrutiny after recent incidents, including one death

By Repeka Nasiko

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 20, 2017) – All undergound operations at the Vatukoula Gold Mine have been ceased indefinitely.

Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya confirmed the closure.

"Yes, we have closed the underground operations because we are carrying out a full audit on the mine," he said.

"The audit began post the sink hole incident in which a miner died, so it has been ongoing for a while. In the meantime, we've had to call up all underground staff and cease all underground operations because there have been some incidents that have occured recently.

"It was a matter of safety and we've asked that they step down all underground operations as our Mineral Resources Department team carry out the audit."

Mr Koya said there was no time frame for the temporary closure.

"It will depend on the full audit. In the meantime, all administrative operations continue."

Fiji Mine Workers Union president Jovesa Sadreu said an investigation had to be carried out on the series of accidents at the mine.

Mr Sadreu said the death of Tekiata Teirei earlier this month could have been avoided if safety procedures were followed.

He said Mr Teirei's death was the 110th death recorded at the mine.

"Miners lives are at risk right now," he said.

"There should be an investigation by Government on how Mr Teirei died."

Mr Sadreu said two other accidents occurred at the mine seriously injuring two people who are at the Lautoka Hospital.

"One of the miners was buried under some rocks and he broke both his legs. He was admitted into Lautoka last week.

"Another case involved a worker who inhaled gas fumes."

"He's in a very serious condition too."

Fiji Times Online.
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