Tag Archives: Fiji

VGM awaits board of inquiry results in Fiji

Felix Chaudhary | The Fiji Times | 15 May, 2018

ANY steps that could be taken to increase safety at Vatukoula Gold Mines PLC (VGM) will be highlighted during a board of inquiry into the death of Avinesh Ram, a miner who allegedly lost his life during an underground incident last week Wednesday.

This was the word from VGM corporate services manager and special adviser to general manager Dinny Laufenboeck in response to questions raised by this newspaper.

“A board of inquiry under the chairmanship of an independent official appointed by the Mineral Resources Department continues into the fatality which occurred underground at the Vatukoula Gold Mines on May 2, 2018,” she said.

“As this is a legal process mandated by the Mining Act, please address any requests for information to the PS (permanent secretary) for Lands and Mineral Resources.

“Recommendations on what more VGM could do in managing risk to employees at Vatukoula will be provided as an outcome from the board of inquiry.”

Mr Ram allegedly died after he fell into a sinkhole in the R1 underground shaft on May 2 and became trapped under 20m of rock and soil.


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Geopacific Resources raises $10m for Woodlark gold exploration

Woodlark Island

Ewen Hosie | Australian Mining | May 2, 2018

Gold explorer Geopacific Resources has raised $10 million in exploration funding for its Woodlark gold project in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea.

The funds were raised in a placement of 280 million shares at $0.036 cents each, a 5.3 per cent discount on the company’s closing price before making the announcement.

Geopacific hopes to establish a drill program to define the project’s wider potential beyond near-pit reserve drilling. The company is targeting an aspirational resource of 5 million ounces (Moz) of gold, a significant expansion on the current resource figure of 1.57Moz.

“Any new discoveries have the potential to ultimately improve the forecast gold production profile in excess of the current 100,000oz per annum and extend the mine life,” said Geopacific managing  director Ron Heeks.

“Having established Woodlark as a robust gold development project it’s encouraging to see strong financial support for our strategy to finalise the definitive feasibility study (DFS) and bring a significant exploration program online to continue to grow the project,” he added.

More than half of the $10 million will go towards resource development and drilling at $5.6 million overall; $900,000 is budgeted for completion of Woodlark’s DFS, $1.1 million for exploration costs at company projects in Cambodia and Fiji, and the remaining $2.4 million will be for working capital, offer and other project costs.

In addition to Woodlark, Geopacific’s projects include the Kou Sa copper-gold project in Cambodia and five gold projects in various stages of exploration in Fiji, being the island nation’s largest licence holder. These include the Nabila, Sabeto, Vuda, Rakiraki and Cakaudrove projects.

In March, completion of a pre-feasibility study (PFS) on Woodlark allowed Geopacific to increase its interest in the project to 93 per cent under agreement terms with joint venture partner Kula Gold.

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Fiji mine tragedy, man dies

Felix Chaudhary | The Fiji Times | 3 May, 2018

A 38-YEAR-OLD man is dead after an alleged incident at the Vatukoula Gold Mine yesterday. When this edition went to press last night, police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said attempts to recover the victim’s body was still underway.

VGML corporate services manager Dinny Laufenboeck said a rock fall occurred in the R1 shaft underground and emergency rescue teams and the mine general manager were at the site.

It is understood the incident happened at about midday yesterday.

The Mineral Resources Department had closed underground mining operations in April last year after a series of accidents and death of a worker.

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New $10Mil Vatukoula Shaft Ready Next Year

The two cable drums used in the construction of the new Dolphin Shaft. Photo: Charles Chambers

Site preparation is well under way, official groundbreaking ceremony is expected to take place on May 8.

Charles Chambers | Fiji Sun | 29 April 2018

A new ventilation and haul­age shaft is under construc­tion by Vatukoula Gold Mines.

With an investment of $10 million it is expected to be completed early next year.

The new 700 metres deep Dolphin shaft is being constructed with the main aim of providing better ven­tilation for the mine’s Philip Shaft.

This will be the first such shaft sunk at Vatukoula since the Philip Shaft was constructed by the for­mer Joint Venture between Emper­or Gold Mining and Western Min­ing in the mid 1980s.

The project, besides being planned to improve ventilation and working conditions for the Philip Shaft, will also see the opening up of new ar­eas for mining.

Although site preparation is well under way, the official ground­breaking ceremony is expected to take place on May 8.

The company’s Surface Project Manager, Onisimo Fonmanu, said the site was also where an old shaft was in the 1980’s.

“The shaft then was only about five levels deep which was around 160 metres.”

With the new shaft expected to be around 700 metres deep, the com­pany has hired expert contractors from China to carry out the project.

The shaft main purpose would be similar to that of an exhaust venti­lator.

Mr Fonmanu said: “The Philip shaft needs more air flow than what it currently has.

“This project is aimed at rectify­ing that,” Mr Fonamanu said.

A tunnel will be dug from the Phil­ip shaft to join with the Dolphin shaft and this new line will be used to suck the air out of Philip Shaft.

“Once it does this then the airflow will be much better and it would also be cooler too for the workers who work there.”

Mr Fonmanu said the work pres­ently being carried out at Dolphin shaft was a term called ‘shaft sink­ing.’

The work had to be done care­fully as while the shaft was getting deeper, they had to be careful of the sides not caving in.

“It is a project which has to be done carefully as we have people who will be working below as the shaft deepens.”

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Mine Refutes Slime Spillage Claims

Nirmala Devi, 58, at her home in the Toko area in Tavua on April 13th. Behind her is mud residents claim is mixed with slime. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Waisea Nasokia | Fiji Sun | April 15, 2018

The Vatukoula Gold Mine Limited (VGML) says its activities and operations pose no direct threat to its surroundings and residents in the area.

VGML made the comment after reports that the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources was investigating  claims that the Nasivi River in Vatukoula may have been contaminated by what has been described as toxic slime, which overflowed into the river at the height of Tropical Cyclone Keni.

Vatukoula Gold Mine Limited Corporate Services Manager and Senior Adviser to the General Manager Dinny Laufenboeck said the torrential rainfall brought on by TC Keni after weeks of prolonged rain and flood water in the Lobia Creek caused a washout of some dry tailings from an old tailings storage dam established in the early days of mining at Vatukoula.

“Solid tailings of the age of those which were washed out have minimal chemical residue since they have oxidised in the main,” she said.

“They are not water soluble. They therefore do not prevent the threat in a spillage which an uncontrolled discharge would pose from VGML’s current storage dam, for example, which is some distance from where the incident occurred.”

Ms Laufenboeck’s comments came as Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources permanent secretary Malakai Finau said: “Staff from the Mineral Resources Department are currently at Vatukoula to inspect and verify the claims.”

A team from this newspaper visited some homes in Vatukoula which were affected by the floods in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Josie and Keni.

It was observed that the so-called slime blended with mud and had a distinct odour and colour at close inspection.

The slime is claimed to be waste that usually contains arsenic and mercury which flowed from the Vatukoula Gold Mine Limited slime dam.

In response, Ms Laufenboeck said, “VGML analyses all discharges from the Mine at a number of boundary points daily, including the Nasivi River, the results of which are provided to both the Mineral Resources Department as well as the Department of Environment.

“No threat has been detected to the waters surrounding Vatukoula by the events of the past week.

“Officers of the Mineral Resources Department have been on site during the week as part of their regular control inspections.

She refuted the claim that the discharge contained arsenic and mercury.

“Arsenic has never been used in the processing of ores at Vatukoula,” Ms Laufenboeck said.

“Mercury, which poses significant risks to the environment in countries where alluvial mining is carried out, has never been used in the main ore processing systems here because Vatukoula is a hard rock mine.”

Some residents are urging authorities to find out if the discharge did overflow into the Nasivi River and into residential areas.

Nirmala Devi, 58, of the Toko area said: “We noticed slime in our homes. During two previous floods we did not notice any slime.

“The company workers came and water-blasted our home, for which we are grateful,’’ Ms Devi said.

Nikola Nasila, 24, of Lomalagi said: “There has been deposit of slime found in the waterways. This is not only a health hazard, but will be an environmental disaster if it has happened.”

The majority of the residents confirmed what was found on the basis of anonymity.

“There were deposits and the company sent diggers to clear. We are told that when the mud is hard it will be taken to the mill for further process,” said one resident who declined to be named.

Ms Laufenboeck refuted the claims.

“The unpleasant smell experienced by the residents in the area would therefore not be attributable to any chemical residue from the tailings residue,” she said.

“Certainly VGML has offered assistance to the residents affected to clean up their homes.

“Should any resident in the area have any concerns, we would encourage them to make contact with the mine and ask for clarification.”

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Mine spill worry in Fiji

The sediment pond at the XINFA Bauxite mine in Naibulu, Dreketi which is said to have spilled waste water. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

Luke Rawalai | Fiji Times | April 13, 2018

SASAKE villagers in Bua, including fishers in Dreketi have showed their concern on the spillage of wastewater from Naibulu bauxite mining site, claiming the spillage has grown worse.

The fishers said the discolouration of seawater during heavy downpour continued to happen in the area.

Sasake villager Viliame Bailato claimed fish population in the area had dwindled over the years, adding they were worried about its effect in the next few years if spillage continued.

“People rely on fish and other marine organisms such as crabs for their sustenance and also to earn a living,” he said.

On behalf of fishers in the Dreketi irrigation area, Ashnil Kumar claimed waterways in the area would turn dark red during heavy rain because of the spillage from the mine’s sediment pond.

Responding to these concerns, Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya said the ministry routinely and at times randomly carried out water sampling as they continued to monitor the mining operation and its commitment to environmental protection.

Mr Koya said past analytical results indicated that they conformed to the National Water Discharge Standards.

“Physical parameters such as total suspended solids (TSS) and total dissolved solids (TDS) were analysed to be also within the standard in the mine vicinity,” he said.

“However, water samples collected during periods of heavy rain indicates high TDS and TSS which is basically discolouration along the normal waterways draining the water catchments that includes Naibulu East mine.

“The ministry remains committed to continue with such monitoring and is not working in isolation as it encourages self-regulation by the mining companies, because it is in their best interest to follow best international practices and comply with the relevant laws,” said Mr Koya.

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$1.61M paid to 4 landowning units in Nawailevu village in premium and rental returns – Koya

Minister for Land and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya

Iva Danford | Fiji Village | 16 March 2018

A total of $1.61 million has been paid out to the four landowning units in Nawailevu village in Vanua Levu in premium and rental returns.

This was highlighted by the Minister for Land and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya who says that the Mataqali, Nalutu received $85,893.45 in rock royalty payments.

Koya says that 11 Yavusa’s in the Districts of Lekutu and Navakasiga in Bua have received fishing rights compensation amounting to $275,000.

He says the other benefits enjoyed by the landowners are the trucks purchased from the lease money that have been used for business purposes like transportation of staff, school children and other mataqali needs.

Koya says that the Mataqali Naicobo purchased a 3-tonne carrier to transport workers, school children and attended to other mataqali commitments.

He says that the Mataqali Nalutu has utilized their lease monies for housing purposes, purchase of fishing gear to assist them with their small business operations.

While responding to Koya’s statement, SODELPA MP Josefa Dulakiverata says that the mining company in Nawailevu should not have been given new exploration and mining license until rehabilitation process in Nawailevu has finished.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources says that government cannot influence the utilization of revenues received and the landowners are at liberty to utilize their funds how they want to, as the choice rests solely on the landowners. 

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