The Vatukoula mine was on care and maintenance when Westech took control of the asset. Westech managed the entire asset including $30 million in creditors and 2000 employees resident in mine houses on the mine site.

The mine consisted of three operating mine areas, Smith vertical shaft, Philip vertical shaft and main decline. The mine contained strong grades of around 8g/t on average with very challenging underground conditions including 55C tepid water on the ore bodies at 300PSI.

The mine was 900 metres deep with 10 C heat pickup per 100 metres depth which meant the mine had to be refrigerated and well ventilated to manage the heat flow from the high thermal gradient and 24 heavy diesel vehicles underground.

The mine had operated since 1956 and at the time had 5 million ounces in resource and 1 million ounces in reserves. Westech refurbished and opened the 1 million tonne sulphide processing plant and opened the three mining areas multiskilling all staff and bringing the workforce down to 700. The workforce was 100% Fiji national management reporting to Westech Principals.

The mine was self sufficient. It consumed 80 million litres of diesel per annum to generate on average 10Mw of electrical power for the mine and village.

Westech refurbished and commissioned the mine, stabilised government and stakeholder relations, worked through the creditors and started pouring gold with a budget of 50,000 ounces per annum.

© 2015 Westech International