Protesters march to Karangahake drilling rig

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Protesters marching up Mount Karangahake to occupy a drilling rig
Protesters marching up Mount Karangahake to occupy a drilling rig

Twenty people marched to a drilling rig on Mount Karangahake this morning in protest of recent renewed mining efforts.

When the group arrived at the site where the drilling company was in the process of moving equipment from one drill site to another, they presented a letter and had a picnic.

Moving of equipment was halted temporarily, but resumed when the protesters headed back down the mountain.

Newcrest Mining Ltd were planning three weeks of exploratory drilling on the side of the mountain and local people have vowed to disrupt this at every opportunity.

The first rig went up on Saturday, metres away from Conservation land.

One of the protesters, Sabine Hartmann, 52, lived in the Karangahake Gorge and saw the rig whilst visiting friends on Dickey Flat Road.

"We are here to protect the mountain and its diverse ecology. Mining activities in this area would have a grave impact on wildlife as it makes up a vital part of an important ecological corridor, connecting the Coromandel and Kaimai ranges."

Locals have a long term commitment to prevent mining in the Karangahake Gorge. One of the chief concerns was the way the gold mining industry inevitably degrades and contaminates rivers.

Last week it emerged that another mining company present in the area, New Talisman, were courting Chinese investment and seeking approval for a traffic plan to mine on Conservation land on the mountain itself.

Ms Hartmann said "Direct action like this lets companies like Newcrest know that we will not stand them profiteering from this sacred mountain."

In a written statement a Newcrest spokesperson said no mining activities were taking place, only exploration. The drilling was not located on conservation land.

"Environmental management plans are developed to identify and outline controls to prevent potential environmental impacts during the establishment of the drill site and during drilling activities. All dill sites will be fully rehabilitated once drilling has been completed."

The spokesperson said they could confirm a group of protesters approached the drill rig while it was in the process of being moved to a second drill hole a few hundred metres away.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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