NEWCREST MINING stands to be the big winner among Australian companies should the lifting of emergency powers by Fiji's military dictator Commodore Frank Bainimarama prove to be the first step to the restoration of democracy.
The goldminer is the manager and 69.94 per cent owner of the Namosi joint venture, 30 kilometres west of the capital, Suva. Namosi is home to the Waisoi deposit and other copper-gold targets which are being evaluated.
The Waisoi deposit ranks as one of the world's biggest undeveloped copper-gold deposits. Newcrest last estimated a total resource of 7.9 million tonnes of copper and 7.7 million ounces of gold. But for Fiji's political turmoil, stronger copper and gold prices would have made the deposit a real development candidate by now.
Hopes have risen that the political hurdle to a development proceeding may be lifted following Commodore Bainimarama's new year address in which he declared that emergency powers would be rescinded and that a new constitution was in the works.
Commodore Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup. The fallout from the coup did not scare Newcrest off from pursuing Namosi's potential as its entry into the joint venture with Japanese partners occurred in July 2007.
When Newcrest picked up the running at Namosi, the Waisoi deposit was about half the size of the current resource estimate. Recent work has been focused on finding higher grade ore positions that could sweeten the economics of what would be a multibillion dollar development.
Newcrest would not comment yesterday on the political shift in Fiji.
Newcrest shares climbed $1.10 or 3.58 per cent yesterday to $30.70. The strong gain was in line with other gold stocks which were buoyed by the gold price rise.