We believe that to operate effectively and profitably VGM needs to establish mutually beneficial relationships within the community that we operate. We need to maintain these relationships to help us ensure a stable operating environment and allow access to our exploration assets.
Management expects that the commencement of the provision of assistance from the Vatukoula Social Assistance Trust Fund is imminent, the Trust implementation documents having been approved by the Cabinet of the Government of Fiji. The trustees are expected to administer the F$6million dollars of assistance contributed by the Group for the benefit of those employees still redundant after the former owners of the Vatukoula Gold Mine ceased operations in December 2006.
The Vatukoula Gold Mine has under previous owners had some issues with its community relations. Over the course of 2012 there has been an improvement in the relationship between the Company and our local stakeholders. They key areas of focus for this improvement have been:
- Regular engagement with the local communities, allowing open and frank discussions and respecting stakeholder concerns.
- Maximising the communities’ opportunity to benefit from employment and local procurement.
- Developing along-term plan to assist local communities to pursue their own socio-economic priorities.
Some of the main material contributions we make to the local community are; the provision of subsidised power and water, sponsorship of local sporting clubs and events; renovation or construction of staff housing and the contribution of F$6 million for the establishment of the Vatukoula Social Assistance Trust Fund (“VSATF”). The Social Assistance Trust Fund was established in 2009 to support those members of the Vatukoula community who were previously employed at the mine at the time of the mine closure in December 2006, who were not able to find employment.
Under principles stipulated by VGM, it is intended that the VSATF function as a model for current and future mining operations throughout Fiji in terms of planning for the sustainable livelihoods of mine workers.