23 Nov 2005

Fiji minister inspects conditions after worker dies in mining accident

11:24 am on 23 November 2005

Fiji's minister for lands and mineral resources, Samisoni Tikonisau, has visited the Vatukoula gold mine where a miner was crushed to death in a rock fall last Friday.

32-year old Sharveen Prasad has left a wife and two young children who are only entitled to a maximum of 14-thousand-400 US dollars under current Fiji laws.

The Fiji Times quotes Mr Tikonisau as saying he wanted a first-hand experience of the conditions Mr Prasad was working in just before the tragedy.

Accompanied by the government mines inspector, Ian Fong, Mr Tikonisau visited the mine shaft 600 metres below ground where the rock fall killed Mr Prasad.

He says it is of paramount importance the investigations pinpoint the exact cause of the accident as there is a need to prevent its recurrence.

Meanwhile, the former opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says there is no reason why the Emperor Gold Mining Company should be exempted from observing the government's Occupational Health and Safety Regulations which all other companies have to abide by.

Mr Beddoes says allowing a company to operate without complying with certain laws is denying workers their full rights.

He says many people are reluctant to speak out against the company because of the fear of victimisation.