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Mining, Past and Present
gold production, 1990-1997 (kg)
|* January to November
Gold was first reported in Fiji in 1868,
when the prospector Charles Gurney found traces of placer gold in gravels in the Navua
River, which flows through the southeastern part of Viti Levu. Subsequent small-scale
exploration on both islands resulted in other minor discoveries, but it was not until 1929
that a payable deposit was identified.
The Mt Kasi mine opened in 1932, based
on epithermal vein deposits at Yanawai in south-central Vanua Levu. The mine operated from
1932 to 1946, and is estimated to have produced some 265,000 t of ore grading 7 g/t gold
during this period, mainly from a single open pit. Total gold production during this phase
of operation at Mt Kasi was 1,803 kg.
Despite being the first Fijian gold
producer, Mt Kasi was soon surpassed by the Vatukoula mines in northern Viti Levu. Here,
epithermal veins hosted within the Tavua caldera have formed the basis for continuous gold
production since 1933, the district's mines having produced a cumulative total of nearly 5
Moz from 17.5 Mt of ore.
||Stripping eluvial ore
at Mt Kasi has revealed additional
hard-rock prospects beneath. Pacific Islands Gold
is now evaluating a number of targets at
Mt Kasi, as well as elsewhere in Vanua Levu
A brief gold-rush followed the Tavua
discovery in 1932, but within four years operations were concentrated into three
companies: Emperor Gold Mining Co., Loloma (Fiji) Gold Mines and Dolphin Mines. In 1958,
there was further consolidation, with Emperor becoming the sole operator. Australia's
Western Mining (now WMC) held a 20% interest in the operation between 1983 and 1991, when
full ownership reverted to Emperor Gold Mining Co. Ltd.
Having been the sole producer of Fijian
gold for over 50 years, in early 1996 Emperor was joined by Pacific Islands Gold, an
Australian-listed company that reopened the Mt Kasi mine on the basis of the initial
mineable reserve of 154,450 oz of gold. Between them, the two companies produced 146,430
oz of gold during 1996, of which Emperor contributed 134,222 oz from 632,000 t of ore
grading 7.6 g/t gold and Mt Kasi 12,208 oz from 191,618 t grading 2.6 g/t.
|Mt Kasi: The
|After lying unworked for 50 years the
Mt Kasi mine, in the Yanawai goldfield of southern Vanua Levu, was reopened in early 1996.
The operator, Pacific Islands Gold, was granted a seven-year Special Mining Lease over the
deposit in 1994.
site of the first major gold discovery in Fiji, is classed as a high-sulphidation
(enargite-gold)-type epithermal deposit that has been exposed by erosion. Sulphides make
up to 20% of the silicified host rocks, consisting of dacitic andesite flows, breccias and
tuffs that have been cut by an altered dacitic feldspar porphyry. Primary ore minerals
include native gold, pyrite, sulphides such as enargite, tennantite and chalcopyrite, and
Primary gold-bearing rocks occur within
a silicified fault zone, the Kasi Structure. Ranging from 5 to 25 m wide, this produced
most of the 265,000 t of ore won during the first period of working, from 1932 to 1946.
Current operations centred initially on eluvial resources at three locations: Mango, Bure
and Hill-side. Hard-rock production began at the end of 1996, with a blend of primary and
eluvial ore now being processed.
The initial resource supporting the
reopened mine was 1.8 Mt grading 2.6 g/t gold. Gold production for the financial year
ended June 1997 totalled 24,496 oz from the treatment of 287,300 t of ore grading 3.0 g/t.
Pacific Islands Gold reported cash operating costs of A$392/oz, including royalties, with
an average price received of A$538/oz.
© Mining Journal 1998
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