Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

New underground Waihi goldmine moves step closer

Newmont Waihi Gold's application was delayed for four months because of the number of technical reports required. Photo / Thinkstock
Newmont Waihi Gold's application was delayed for four months because of the number of technical reports required. Photo / Thinkstock

An underground goldmine planned for Waihi moved a step closer yesterday.

Hauraki District Council received Newmont Waihi Gold's application to establish a large goldmine up to 350m below ground.

It will affect up to 600 homes in Waihi east, including 46 which would be directly above it.

The council's strategic planning project manager Mark Buttimore said it could take two months to make a decision on the application.

The mine would replace the company's Favona and Trio mines in Waihi.

Mr Buttimore said the application was for a significant chunk of land covering the eastern residential and rural area of Waihi.

Newmont Waihi Gold's application was delayed for four months because of the number of technical reports required.

Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga said the community had been waiting since Newmont announced its plans in August last year to find out what the implications and effects were.

"It's disappointing it's taken this long ... What we don't know is what the effects are, what the implications are - the vibrations, noise from the operation."

The community had mixed reactions as eastern homeowners were worried about the mine devaluing their properties, while another part was pleased the company was continuing to mine and employ people, he said.

Newmont Waihi Gold external affairs manager Sefton Darby said the town was still about four years away from getting a new mine as he expected an appeal against any decision would be made to the Environment Court, which was unlikely to make a ruling before next year.

While more people were likely to feel effects such as vibrations compared with the other mines because it was closer to town, he said their magnitude would be no greater than that already being experienced.

The company has already held public meetings and made a compensation offer to affected homeowners.

Distressed Residents Action Team spokeswoman Collette Spalding said the group planned to oppose the application unless the company drastically improved its compensation offer to property owners.

The demands included replacing its current offer so owners could exchange east Waihi properties for similar homes away from the mine, providing compensation and covering legal fees and moving costs.

The proposed mine is part of the company's two-part Golden Link proposal, which also includes plans to explore further mineral reserves under the open Martha Pit.

The company expects to extract more than $1 billion of gold and silver from them both.

The Environment Court is considering an appeal against consent approval to tunnel beneath the western part of the Martha Pit.

- NZ Herald

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