25 Jan 2013

Fiji landowners still believe PM will safeguard their interests

1:45 pm on 25 January 2013

Landowners who are strongly opposed to a mining project near Suva in Fiji say they still believe the interim government will safeguard their interests, despite it giving the go ahead last year for exploratory work to resume.

The Namosi Joint venture is a partnership between the Australian mining company Newcrest and Japanese interests.

Early last year, the interim prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama put exploratory work on hold in response to opposition from landowners, then later allowed work to resume on the basis that the company had addressed environmental concerns and agreed to carry out rehabilitation works.

A landowner, who wishes to remain unnamed, says rehabilitation works will be meaningless if the gold and copper mine is given the green light and says most landowners believe mining would destroy the environment.

Despite that, he says they still have faith that the interim government will do the right thing by them.

"Even though it hurt us but we are part of the government, we opted to continuously believe them, they'll safeguard our interests. Even though the decision made was against what we think, but we believe in them, that was basically the way forward."

A final decision on whether the mine goes ahead hinges in part on an Environmental Impact Assessment.