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Vatukoula, Fiji

Vatukoula (meaning "gold rock" in Fijian), is a gold mining settlement in Fiji, 9 km inland from the Town of Tavua on Viti Levu, the main Fiji island (home to the national capital Suva and its international airport Nadi).

Vatukoula may be viewed historically as the cradle of the modern gold mining industry in Fiji. The discovery of gold in the Tavua district is attributed to Baron de Este, who found it in the Nasivi River in 1872. Some 20 years later, New Zealand prospector Fielding, began a systematic search along the Nasivi river. However, discovery of gold in commercial quantities in 1932 at Vatukoula, is attributed to Scottish prospector Bill Borthwick. A “gold rush” ensued – "pegs denoting claims went up everywhere" – from all the Fiji islands, "hundreds of people – villagers, shopkeepers and city dwellers – arrived at the diggings".

In 1934, a new Mining Ordinance to regulate the fledgling industry was introduced by the British colonial administration. In the same year, the Emperor Gold Mining Company Ltd. established its operations in Vatukoula, followed in 1935 by the Loloma (Fiji) Gold Mines, N.L., and then by Fiji Mines Development Ltd. (later to become Dolphin Mines.Ltd.). These developments ushered in a "mining boom" for Fiji, with gold production rising more than a hundred-fold, from 931.4 oz in 1934 to 107,788.5 oz in 1939, an order of magnitude then comparable to the output of New Zealand and the eastern Australian states.

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