Fairfax Media has reported that a foreign-owned gold mining company has been charged following claims of pollution at the small gold mining town of Ross on the West Coast – noted for its recent gold mining operations.
Fairfax said Ross residents were on water restrictions for at least two months after a slip polluted the town supply in August last year.
The US-owned Elect Mining Ltd allegedly carried out what was claimed to be illegal earthworks at its Butlers alluvial gold mine near Ross. This reportedly caused the slip into the Minehan Creek catchment – one of two that feed the town.
West Coast Regional Council chief executive Mike Meehan said Elect Mining had been charged with illegally discharging into the waterway. He reportedly said the Westland District Council will be seeking compensation for the damage.
Westland District mayor Bruce Smith said a new filter would cost up to $350,000 and the council would be pursuing the mining company for costs if it was found to be responsible by the court.
Smith reportedly said: “It caused a lot of damage and a real frustration to the people of Ross. It clogged up the filter with clay and that type of filter is no longer manufactured in New Zealand so we had to look at a replacement.”
Fairfax said the council was contacting the mining company and its insurer with a “very strong approach to recovering council costs.”
Last year Elect Mining failed to establish a gold mining operation at the historic mining centre of Canvastown, in Marlborough.
Fairfax said it was seeking a comment from Elect Mining.