The Mineral Resources Department (MRD) was requested by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to facilitate an inspection at the Vatukoula Gold Mine (VGML) last week (Thursday 19 – Friday 20, August, 2021), as there were concerns raised by stakeholders on the increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases at VGML.
Early this year when the outbreak started all mining companies were advised to develop COVID-19 prevention protocols and VGML had developed its in-house guideline.
With the escalating cases in Vatukoula, the company had to transition from COVID-19 prevention to COVID-19- containment which was carried out by the Sub-Divisional Medical Officer (SDMO) and Sub-divisional Health Inspector (SDHI) Tavua.
During the visit the team from MRD in partnership with MoHMS verified and inspected the mines ensuring COVID-19 protocols were met and workplace conditions were safe to help reduce COVID-19 transmission.
This support network is critical in keeping the mine operational through this difficult time and ensuring the 1400 mine employees continue to be employed including mining operators.
The inspection led by Acting Director MRD Mr Raymond Mohammed was made possible through the assistance of the Divisional Medical Officer-West.
The trip also presented an opportunity for MRD to conduct underground inspections in terms of its regulatory function and assess how VGML is managing self-regulation of the mine given the border closure and restrictions in place.
The Department also inspected the following projects which form the cluster of capital projects currently underway in the mine in which VGML has made significant capital investments:
• Dolphin Shaft – upon completion of this project, it will result in a new mining section for the mine;
• Tailings Storage Facility no. 7 – new tailings dam to cater for storage of mine tailings; and
• Tailings Storage Facility no. 6 – Inspection of tailings level deposited in this dam and on-site discussions on proposal for construction of new lift.
The Department hopes to provide relevant support to VGML with continued assistance from the Ministry of Health team in Tavua (SDMO and SDHI).