Paperwork likely to slow miners' golden dreams

By Nicola Boyes

Gold reserves of up to $30 billion may still exist on the Coromandel Peninsula but residents are divided following a High Court decision which opens the door for mining.

Ashley Franklyn, who runs the Coromandel Gold Stamper Battery, said there were hundreds if not thousands of old underground workings across the peninsula that just needed to be tapped into.

"Studies have said about $23 billion but I've heard figures up to $30 billion," Mr Franklyn said.

The appeal decision deems mining a discretionary activity on the peninsula and opens the way for mining companies to tap into the area, lifting a ban which has been in place for the past eight years.

The Thames Coromandel District Council made mining a prohibited activity in coastal and conservation zones and in all recreational and open space policy areas in 1998.

Last year, the Minerals Industry Association and the Ministry of Economic Development took it to court however, to have it deemed a discretionary activity so mining companies could at least apply for consent to mine, and they have won.

Mr Franklyn said people realised the decision was not going to result in huge open-cast mining like that in Waihi.

"There's still a lot of paper work any company will have to go through. It's not going to make it easier for them," Mr Franklyn said.

Association president Peter Atkinson, who is also chief executive of Heritage Gold, said the council had to rewrite its district plan, making mining a discretionary rather than prohibited activity, before anything could happen.

The decision is still splitting the community. Josie Fraser, who has lived in the town all her life, says the land cannot sustain mining.

"We have a heavy rainfall, are prone to slips. It's just a disaster waiting to happen."

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