Waihi Leader: Whistle-stop tour for Labour's Shearer

By Fritha Tagg

Add a comment
Labour MP David Shearer, Coromandel Labour candidate Korbinian Poschl and the candidate for Tauranga, Dr Rachel Jones and Julian Honey listen to Newmont Waihi Gold spokesperson Kit Wilson
Labour MP David Shearer, Coromandel Labour candidate Korbinian Poschl and the candidate for Tauranga, Dr Rachel Jones and Julian Honey listen to Newmont Waihi Gold spokesperson Kit Wilson

A visit to Newmont Waihi Gold's mining operation was just one of the items on Labour MP David Shearer's agenda when he visited Waihi last Wednesday.

Mr Shearer was accompanied by Coromandel Labour candidate, Korbinian Poschl and the candidate for Tauranga, Dr Rachel Jones who is 25 on the party list so is likely to get into parliament at this election.

None of the three Labour representatives had visited the mine workings before so the quick Newmont-organised tour was a chance for them to get a glimpse of the gold mining operation.

The three were visibly impressed when faced with the large hole in the ground which is the Martha Pit.

Newmont spokesperson and tour guide Kit Wilson explained the workings of the pit, pointing out different layers, old workings and the way the ore (and waste rock) is mined and sent to the processing plant.

Just as the mini tour was departing the siren indicating a blast went off and the Labour visitors quickly got back out of the mini-van to witness and feel a mine blast.

The next stop was the Baxter Rd site but because of time restraints the visitors stayed in the mini-van and Mr Wilson explained some of the procedures.

Mr Shearer had plenty of questions about the mine including concerns about the tailings dam so the tour extended to a brief stop at the 'closed' tailings dam and explanations from Mr Wilson on how safe the dam was saying the dam being used presently still had 10 metres to go before it was full.

"It has been designed to meet regulations but there is always the possibility that an earthquake could produce a crack.

"Hope we never have to test it. It is an acceptable risk."

Mr Shearer asked about Correnso and what steps were being taken by the mine company for the residents soon to be affected by the new mine.

Mr Wilson explained the process whereby residents (who were directly affected - with properties above the working mine) could opt to sell their house to Newmont and move away or sell and rent back.

"We now have to offer to buy the homes above the Correnso mine [consent regulations] but residents do have options. It means Newmont has to maintain the houses but that does not deal with the emotional feelings residents have and the way the blasts affect them.

He said they wouldn't feel the trucks operating but would feel the blasts - morning and night.

The drop in house values was brought up and Mr Wilson said if the mine closed there would be the loss of 350 jobs.

The three Labour visitors then attended a public meeting at the Friendly Hall where a small number of Labour supporters had braved the bad weather to put questions to Mr Shearer.
He spoke about his thoughts on education and electricity before asking the audience if they had any questions.

"I want to hear what you are concerned about."

Health issues, waiting lists, ACC were along with the concerns about mining in Waihi East and the subsequent drop in house valuations.

"Labour Party has been conspicuous by its absence during the consent hearings," said one audience member.

"Politicians couldn't care less about Waihi," said another.

"It wasn't that long ago when there was no mining here. The mine had been closed for some time. Waihi didn't die then. If mining went now, it wouldn't die now. It would continue."

Later in the day the three Labour representatives met with Hauraki District Council mayor and members of the Waihi Community Forum.

- Bay of Plenty Times

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 20 Dec 2014 18:55:18 Processing Time: 528ms