Mining boss moves to allay residents' fears

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012

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Shortly before Waihi East residents protested against Newmont Waihi Gold's plan to mine underneath their homes, the company's general manager of operations Glen Grindlay stood before the land use hearing commissioners and acknowledged residents' angst.

"I am not standing here saying that the mining of the Correnso vein and any future mining in the Golden Link Project Area (GLPA) will have no effect," he said. " It will have an effect."

Vibration from blasting activities would at times be discernable, but he said the positive economic effects, including jobs, for Waihi, the region and New Zealand were significant.

"I am asking the hearing panel to weigh up a maximum blast period of around a minute per day - typically three events of about 12 seconds per day, and not at night - at different locations within the mine, with NWG being able to continue operations in Waihi and continue to employ staff at our current levels into the future."

Mr Grindlay said people might not be comfortable with tunnelling occurring under their homes, yet the operations were "very deep" underground.

"Modern mining is very safe, the geotechnical aspects are very well understood, and this project has undergone the highest levels of technical scrutiny as will be demonstrated by the technical witnesses."

He said the goal of the Property and Community Investment Programme was that no-one in the community should be any worse off as a result of the application being approved.

"The NWG policy and approach in the unlikely event our operations cause damage has been publicly stated (including in the Environment Court) - if we break it, we will pay. NWG as a company has the resources to stand behind this promise."

Meanwhile, NWG external affairs manager Sefton Derby has refuted claims from Waihi East residents who said they had been emotionally blackmailed.

They felt NWG had put them in that position after saying that if the Golden Link Project application was not accepted the multinational company would leave town.

"The reality is if this doesn't get approved then mining will end here in 2016 and there will be a very large outflow of work and employment," Mr Derby said.

"I don't think it's blackmail to state facts - that is, we close if it doesn't go ahead."

Mr Derby said the Martha Mine Exploration project would not produce enough ore beyond 2016.

And NWG has no other projects on its books.

"For there to be any alternative we'd have to find a deposit that we don't yet know about, drill it out and go through a separate consent process all before 2016. Now, Correnso has taken four years of drilling to get to this point, so that's just not reality."

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