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17/9/2018 — Conference Special
Protesters hit a social media note
By Ross Louthean

A loud but limited number of protesters went on social media at the weekend to make their claims against mining during some pre-conference tours on the North Island for the AusIMM NZ Mining Conference that begins in Tauranga today.

There’s nothing new with this circus, where the objective is to create a protest that can then be amplified on social media, often on outlets that offer little opportunity for a counter comment, perhaps on the spurious nature of the event.

Four years ago, at a similar annual conference in Rotorua, anti-mining protesters broke into a conference event to make a lot of noise and put our statements to social media, with some of the number dressed in animal costumes, including regular activist Jeanette Fitzsimons, who also joined this weekend’s throng.

One protest was by Coal Action Network Aoteoroa where reportedly 15 protesters met delegates on a pre-conference tour of coal mines in the Waikato, claimed use of coal would help stop climate change. It also generates domestic and export income and coking coal is the critical source for steelmaking.

The mines visited by delegates are owned by BT Mining – the joint venture of Bathurst Mining Ltd (ASX: BRL) and NZ company Tally’s Energy.

What protester fail to comprehend is the jobs, directly and indirectly, the coal mines created and that Waikato coal was utilised by industries, including the vital New Zealand Steel operations.

In the official statement by the protesters they claimed to have “dogged” conference attendees not only at the coal mine but at a gold tour in the Karangahake-Waihi area for which the coal group claimed that six were apprehended by police.

However, The New Zealand Herald, reporting on the Karangahake protest, said police issued pre-charge warnings to five protesters who were then released.

A group called Protect Karangahake said it was concerned about the impact the mining would have on the environment.

“The conservation estate is important. It's precious for New Zealand and it's not to be divvied and sold off for gold mining industry because they will do nothing but destroy it,” the protesters claimed.

However, Karangahake has a rich history of gold mining and its early epithermal operations created the wealth that drove not only regional development but helped create the capital for Auckland’s early development.

The historic Talisman mine at Karangahake is being redeveloped by New Talisman Gold Mines Ltd (NZX & ASX: NTL) which will be presenting at the Tauranga conference.

*Sources: nzherald.co.nz; nzresources.com

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An AusIMM pre-conference tour of Karangahake Gorge four years ago.