Platinum mine seen as solid gold investment

Platinum mining would create jobs and prosperity for the region if given the go-ahead, the Southland Chamber of Commerce boss says.

The Government this week announced more than 300 square kilometres of land in Western Southland could be put to tender for platinum prospecting in September after consulting with iwi and local councils.

Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Richard Hay said it was "very, very encouraging" the project had reached this stage.

If the prospecting was successful and mining was given the go-ahead it would create jobs in mining, construction and transport as well as prosperity for the region, he said.

Mr Hay said it was too early to say how much money and how many jobs would be generated in Southland, but a "good estimate" could be made after the prospecting.

Southland District Council chief executive Dave Adamson said the Longwoods had been vigorously mined for gold in the past and the council had raised various issues at that time.

These included concerns whether the economic benefits would flow back into Southland, and if the mining met provisions in the district plan by protecting heritage sites and indigenous vegetation.

The prospecting proposal will be put to the council at its next meeting on June 26 to decide if it will make a submission.

Environment Southland environmental management director Warren Tuckey said while it was still early days, the regional council was interested in seeing where the proposed mining blocks were and he looked forward to being part of the consultation process.

The regional council would look at the impact of any potential mining on water quality, at rehabilitation afterwards, and the industrial process used to extract the platinum, he said.

If there was large community concern a public meeting could be held, Mr Tuckey said.

The September tender, however, is only for exploration rights. Mining, and the economic and environmental effects it would bring, will be a moot point if no-one discovers any worthwhile deposits of the precious metal.

Ngai Tahu representatives could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Southland Times