THE pending approval of a mining permit for manganese at Nasaucoko in Navosa is expected to boost living standards and create at least 50 employment opportunities.
The revelation by Viti Mining Limited director John Sanday yesterday followed a presentation to the Mineral Resources Department of the geology and prospects of six mineral tenements or exploration licences.
"For us, it's a partnership with the landowners from Nasaucoko Village. Our approach right from day one was to sit with them, speak to them about our plans and update them on what we've found after every field trip — they are just as knowledgeable as us," he said.
"They allocated a house in the village which we paid rent for so our team stayed with them. We've been working with them for about seven years now and when the time came to apply for a surface lease to get manganese, they understood us.
"We're already employing a lot of them but once we get into full production, we'll be looking at employing about 50 people.
"We are paying them $120 a week and in a rural area, that's a lot of money. We've paid for premium of $100,000 for their land and given them some other work apart from working in the mine."
He expressed gratitude to the landowners, adding they would continue to work on establishing trust from the mataqali as well as creating awareness on governance and maintenance of accounts.
"We're slowly bringing them into the commercial world. The industry has big potential and locals should get involved."
Landowner Saula Kunavatu said the initiative would provide income and jobs for the members of the community.
"It will definitely benefit us if the approval is given. We are really happy with this venture. Our main source of income is farming — dalo, yaqona and watermelons — so this is really a good opportunity," he said.
Mineral Resources Department director Malakai Finau said they were in the final stages of processing a permit for the company to mine manganese.