Goldminer blackmailing us - residents

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 09:05 04/12/2012
Waihi East Ratepayers’ Group Inc
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ

PEACEFUL PROTEST: Waihi East Ratepayers’ Group Inc held a a protest yesterday against Newmont Waihi Gold’s application to mine beneath their homes. Resident Joyce Mahy says the mine blasts have caused damage to her house.

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Angry protest heralds start of Waihi mining hearing, Matt Bowen reports.

Angry Waihi residents say they are prisoners in their own homes and being emotionally blackmailed by a multi-national company that intends to mine for gold under their properties.

A protest yesterday by the Waihi East Ratepayers Group Inc (WERG)was timed to coincide with the first day of the independent hearing in the Waihi Memorial Hall into Newmont's proposed Golden Link Project area land use consent.

The global mining giant wants to tunnel beneath homes and extract an estimated $1 billion of ore.

Nearly 50 residents spoke out, including Joyce Mahy.

She lives alone in her Gladstone Rd home and yesterday recalled an incident that she blamed on explosive blasting in the nearby Trio Underground Mine.

It was 1.55pm on November 21 and Ms Mahy said was sitting in her living room chair watching Emmerdale when she heard a "massive bang".

She claimed the force was so strong it lifted her 9kg electric heater off the ground.

"As it came down it swayed and settled and I sat here somewhat bewildered," she said.

"I thought it was funny the pictures didn't come down - then I realised the impact came from under the floor."

Ms Joyce said she wanted to get her house checked professionally but that costs and she felt Newmont should pay, "because they're the ones doing it". "That's Trio which is 500m away. What's going to happen when they come up Gladstone Rd blowing and blasting?"

She won't sell and wants Newmont's project stopped.

It was also revealed at the protest that four Waihi East homes had suffered serious land subsistence yet the owners wanted to remain private until geotechnical reports from Hauraki District Council and Newmont were complete.

One property was described as "a write-off".

Nearly 80 per cent of people in Waihi East were aged over 50, WERG spokesman Terry Podmore said.

They're not anti-mining but as soon as it comes under people's homes it has gone too far, he said.

For many, their life savings are in the land and timber of their homes.

The Golden Link Project area application includes the Correnso ore body and the planned mining path goes underneath Val and Roger Wainhouse's home.

Mrs Wainhouse said she felt like a prisoner.

"Who else in New Zealand would put up with the sort of garbage we're putting up with," Mr Wainhouse said.

"Banging, subsidence and all sorts of nonsense."

Mr Wainhouse said Newmont had "completely conned" the town into thinking if the mine failed the town would die.

"It won't and they're blaming us." Another protester called it "emotional blackmail".

The hearing will continue until all 500 submitters have been heard.

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- Waikato

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