Search on conservation land for gold, platinum

A Dunedin-based company has been given the right to explore conservation land on the Tiwai peninsula for gold and platinum, with 200 holes set to be drilled.

Placer Investments Ltd was given a five-year exploration permit by New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals last month.

The permit covers the entire Tiwai peninsula east of the smelter, part of which is DOC land leased by the smelter and run as a reserve.

Placer Investments director of operations Darcy Schack said the primary goal was gold and platinium group metals.

"There are a number of others we feel might be there [as well]," he said.

Mr Schack said the first move would be to do a magnetic survey of the peninsula to determine where there could be metals.

The company hoped to start work in the new year.

The second phase would be drilling around 200 holes to survey the ground. Each would be 100mm in diameter, with no drilling fluid used.

"You're basically vibrating a pole into the ground to pull stuff out," he said. "It will give a good idea of the cross-section . . . it's going to allow us to verify the magnetic response we get."

He said the company had no idea whether there were extractable quantities of minerals, but it was reasonably confident it would find something.

It had acquired a lot of information about the biodiversity and environment of the peninsula and would ensure it was respected, he said.

"We are one of the greenest mining companies around . . . we are all greenies, pretty much."

In the long term, the project hoped to be a source of employment for Southland, he said.

"The people of Southland have been really good to us, especially the local iwi and DOC."

DOC regional manager Andy Roberts said it was early days in the project and the department did not have any problems with what Placer was doing.

"They are walking round with electronic detection equipment to pick up what info they can," he said. "I think it's a wide range of stuff . . . it's very exploratory."

The peninsula had a history of mineral exploration, he said.

"There has been gold dredging activity along that piece of coast . . . it's been done for years."

The Southland Times