A small protest group has gained social and trade sector media coverage claiming concerns over plans by OceanaGold Corporation (TSX & ASX: OGC) to mine gold under the existing Martha open cut mine in Waihi.
Linked to the group is the blinkered Coromandel Watchdog which is loud in its protests which don’t appear to bother the rump of the Waihi community.
Reporting on the stated concern, the website mining.com said OceanaGold had outlined to the Hauraki District Council its plans for a first stage of an anticipated 10-year mine life extension for the historic Martha mine, which began its life as a series of underground operations into the mid-1990s before being re-opened as an open cut mine.
Mining.com said the proposed new underground mine takes in two areas below the Martha pit, including phase four of the Martha open pit and the Martha underground mine.
OceanaGold reported that the phase four development contains about 77,000 ounces of gold in proven and probable reserves, while the expectation for Martha underground was an exploration target of between 500,000 oz and 700,000 oz of gold.
Mining the Martha pit stopped in April 2015 when a major slip and a rockfall affected the area.
“Reminiscences of this accident combined with the idea of an expanded mine are causing concerns among residents in adjacent neighbourhoods,” the website said.
Coromandel Watchdog claimed fear potential vibrations from underground drilling could cause another wall collapse. They also expressed worry over excessive noise from blasting and damages to their houses.
Undoubtedly a technical response to this claim would not do, as what happened near the turn of the new century when some caving occurred and saw some areas near the pit cordoned off, and prompted a then Green MP and activist to claim modern mining had caused this.
An investigation by GNS Science showed that the cave-ins had been caused by underground mining companies at Martha in the early 1900s ceasing to backfill their stopes, resulting in them over the decades producing progressing cavities that travelled to surface.
One of the buildings to suffer from this was the original operations office run by Newmont Mining, which operated at Waihi prior to being bought out of the project by OceanaGold.
And yet, Coromandel Watchdog reportedly claimed on Facebook that “they are also looking to mine under even more homes in Waihi Town – in Mueller Street and Gilmour Streets north of Kenny Street.
“This unsustainable industry has had this town by the proverbial for years – many times longer than the mine was originally consented for.”
Well guess what, what would Waihi look like today with modern mining, with its jobs and people not interested in using empty mine drives to cultivate funny cigarettes!
Mining.com cited the New Zealand Herald as saying OceanaGold mitigates the impact of its activities by contributing $300,000 per year to the town. The miner also plans to continue hosting community meetings to follow up on residents’ concerns.
Sources: Mining.com; Paydirt magazine; nzresources.com