13 Sep 2007

New owners of Fiji goldmine to replace expatriate management with locals

10:43 am on 13 September 2007

The new owners of the Vatukoula gold mine in Fiji say locals will manage the mine when it re-opens because a large factor in its failure when owned by the Emperor Gold Mining Company was the employment of too many expatriates.

The Fiji Times quotes Westech Gold's director, Brian Wesson, as saying expatriates previously employed at the mine did not need to be hired as full time staff because there were many locals who were capable of holding management positions.

Mr Wesson says this was evident when expatriates employed by Emperor packed up and left when the mine suddenly closed on December 5.

He says senior local employees held their own and, even though they were not receiving their pay, they managed to maintain the mine during the most difficult period in its 71-year history.

Mr Wesson says as a result Westech Gold would only be managed by locals.

He says while expatriates may be brought to Fiji to provide training, none would be given management positions.

Meanwhile, Westech has paid the Fiji government most of the 1-point-9 million US dollars it spent to generate electricity and keep the mine dry and pump water after the mine closed down.