Iwi to fight Karangahake Gorge mining

WAIKATO TIMES AND ALAN WOOD
Last updated 16:39 10/09/2014
karangahake gorge
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ

MINE PERMIT: New Talisman Gold has been granted permission to start test mining in the Karangahake Gorge.

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Iwi say they will help fight a return of mining to the Karangahake gorge.

New Talisman Gold has been granted permission to start test mining in the Karangahake Gorge.  

While the company says it's a step on the way to renewed production from the historic mining area, anti-mining advocates say it shouldn't be happening in such a sensitive area.

The Conservation Department has authorised the company to enter and operate its Talisman mine permit, allowing the extraction of 600 tonnes of ore a month in a trial mining project.

Iwi spokesperson Winn Brownlee of Ngāti Tamaterā said local iwi were strongly opposed to mining in Karangahake.

"Talisman Gold did come to see me and we objected to the mine, just as our forebears did.

"They shouldn't be touching anything close to our [river] as there is no guarantee that they're are not going to pollute our waterways," she said.

"All our forests [and birdlife] should be coming back - it's a place where everyone should be able to go to and is very significant to Ngati Tamatera."

Chief Executive Matthew Hill earlier said the granting of the authority was a ''major step'' on the road from exploring to becoming a significant producer. It was now working with DOC and other government departments over details of its plan.

The Talisman permit covers both the old Talisman and Crown mines, which produced the majority of the one million ounces of gold extracted from the Karangahake centre over more than a century of mining up to 1992.

But Ruby Powell, of Coromandel Watchdog, said the land involved should be covered by an extended Schedule Four to protect land from the Kopu-Hikuai Rd south to Te Aroha, as Labour and the Greens proposed.

''It is DOC land, set aside for conservation, and the area included in New Talisman's project is sensitive and precious land. It is outrageous to grant access to mine in such a controversial area so close to an election,'' Powell said.

Labour and the Greens have promised to extend Schedule Four if they gain power.

Powell said concerns included where tailings would be dumped and how the ore would be removed from the area.

"Today the area has a sustainable economy developing from people coming to enjoy the natural environment with many DOC walks and the Hauraki Rail Trail winding through the Karangahake Gorge."

The Rail Trail was listed as one of the 14 wonders of New Zealand on the 100% Pure New Zealand website, she said.

"Both iwi and locals we have talked to are opposed to mining in the gorge and the Hauraki District Council and the Department of Conservation should never have given the New Talisman project the go-ahead."

"We have had pledges of support from all over the globe of people wanting to support us, locals and iwi in our bid to save the gorge and we will use all peaceful means available to do so," said Powell.

A social media and mass emailing campaign has begun to ask the candidates standing for the Coromandel Electorate to take a stance on mining in the Karangahake Gorge, there is a protest planned for this coming Sunday 3pm and a public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 16th September at 6pm in the Paeroa War Memorial Hall.

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TALISMAN 'ENCOURAGED'

Last year the miner removed 50 tonnes of stockpiled ore from the mine site for use in preliminary metallurgical tests, New Talisman said after its annual meeting today.

The ore was now at a Waihi ore-treatment facility, owned by global mining giant Newmont Mining, ready for processing.

Indicative analysis of the samples taken from crushed ore suggested the grade would exceed one ounce of gold per tonne and several ounces of silver per tonne, New Talisman said.

"The gold produced from this batch test will be the first gold produced from the Talisman mine for decades."

Gold was discovered at Karangahake, between the Coromandel and Kaimai ranges, in 1869.

Mining started six years later, with the main mining period lasting until 1919. Mining continued at varying levels of intensity up to 1992.

In 2013, New Talisman's balance sheet had reported net tangible assets of $1.38 million. In 2014, the figure was $7.94m.

- Waikato Times

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