MOUNT KASI GOLD
Geoff Taylor, of Savusavu, is among the few exploration geologists still around who worked at Mount Kasi gold mine in Vanua Levu.
The 70-year-old well-known figure of the hidden paradise, had worked with different companies while exploring gold for 50 years.
Mr Taylor is today a member of the Savusavu Tourism Association, and partner in the popular Copra Shed. But he knows the mining area like the back of his hand.
“Anglo Pacific Exploration was the first gold mining company,” he said. Then Newmont entered the mining scene in a joint venture with Anglo Pacific, Mr Taylor said.
“From 1932 to 1946, about 60,000 ounces of gold was mined,” he recalled.
“The mine closed as fuel and supplies became difficult to obtain following the second world war.”
He said further exploration was carried out from 1978 until 1997 when more gold was discovered in the vicinity.
Range Resources, Pacific Islands Gold, shared a joint venture with Burdekin in 1997 to reopen the mine, he said.
He said: “60,000 ounces of gold were mined 20 metres below the surface.”
The company, Pacific Islands Gold, which was in a joint venture with Burdekin in 1997, faced cash flow problems.
Unable to raise funds - to convert the plant to mine the harder ore that remained - the mine closed in 1998. The Fijian Government had recently advertised for interested parties to submit expressions of interest for the proposal for exploration and possible development of the Mount Kasi Mineral Prospect.
Below the surface
Mr Taylor now believes an estimated 300,000 ounce of gold remain to be mined, with the right equipment and financing.
“This would mean a lot of people will get employment as the pandemic doesn’t affect mining,” Mr Taylor said.
“Secondly, landowners would get contract benefits by means of providing transport to the mine, food supplies, and arranging security officers.”
Mr Taylor said 80 per cent of royalty was now given to landowners with the remaining 20 per cent to the Government.
“I hope the professional workers come by boat so that Savusavu’s waterfront could benefit,” he said.
He said the proven resource goes to about 80 metres below the surface.
■ Tomorrow: MT KASI TODAY
The Mount Kasi mine in 1997. Inset: Geoff Taylor today.
Geoff Taylor at Mount Kasi mine with the first gold produced in 1997.