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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Undermining Waihi

NZ Herald:
Consent has been granted for an underground gold mine under a residential part of Waihi, Radio New Zealand reported.
Mining company Newmont Waihi Gold has been granted consent for the Correnso Underground Mine, New Zealand's first mine directly below a residential area.
Conditions include restrictions on the magnitude and number of blasts.
Green MP Catherine Delahunty said those affected by the mine in Waihi would be devastated by the decision.
"Already there have been effects from the Favona and Trio mines, but they weren't directly under people's houses. Now it's direct."
She acknowledged those who worked at the mine would be pleased with the decision, but said "the people affected by the mine will be devastated".
Ms Delahunty said Waihi was an economically vulnerable community, despite the millions of dollars of gold that have been mined from it.
When I heard this had been consented I was stunned. Mining under a residential area!? With all the problems of subsidence, pollution and nuisance in the past it still seems gold counts for more in any equation.

Waihi is a mining town - the huge Martha pit is visible from the main road - so I guess people's expectations are already low. If it wasn't for the look of the people and the English language signage it could be mistaken for somewhere in the Andes or Africa the way the miners cottages go all the way to the edge of the hole. If it was anywhere else the opposition would win, but mining in Waihi - like their toxic tailings - will be around for a very long time.

The map shows the proposed mine area is basically all the east of Waihi township. It goes under private and public property (my bolding below). How the hell does that work? The report says a lot of the housing under the project was built in the 1970s and 80s. You do have to wonder what sort of planning was operating back then to let residential development occur around ore deposits - which at that point would have been mined for a century. Or did they assume in their plan that mining would have come to an end by now?  The rule seems to be as long as they think there is gold in the ground humans will try to get it out - it doesn't matter how improbable and difficult the location.

The report:
Waihi Gold Company Ltd (trading as Newmont Waihi Gold (NWG)) is the owner and operator of
the Martha Mine, an open pit mining operation located more-or-less in the middle of Waihi township within 100m of the main street through the town. NWG also owns and operates the Favona Mine, an underground mine in the vicinity of the process plant several kilometres east of the Waihi township, and is currently developing the Trio Underground Mine which is located under Union Hill about halfway between the existing process plant and the Martha open pit.
This resource consent application seeks to provide for underground mining within a defined project area, termed the ‘Golden Link Project Area’ (refer Figure 1). The Golden Link Project Area incorporates the Correnso ore body.
A limited duration for the land use consent of 20 years is sought[...]
The Correnso Underground Mine is almost centred within Area L of the Golden Link Project Area and is predominantly below private property and public roads in the eastern part of Waihi
 Township (refer Figure 3). As far as possible, access drives including those from Favona and Trio as well as the vent drive to the SFA follow public roads. As noted previously, the orebody itself is
 located between 130m and 430m below ground surface, however the top of the mine is 157m
 from the surface based on current mine design and the majority of mining activity occurs at a depth of 270m – 350m below ground surface.

Is the Hauraki District Council going to get any royalties from the gold taken under Morgan Park, Banks St. Reserve and the town's streets etc?


At 7/5/13 3:19 pm, Blogger Rangi said...

I remember visting the Waihi mine a few times on field trips as a kid. I distinctly recall someone saying that they had a plan to turn the mine into a big lake "soon", so

"Or did they assume in their plan that mining would have come to an end by now?"

might not be far off the mark.


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