Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Waihi mine fight going to court

Waihi residents worried about Correnso project's effects on their health and homes.

Waihi residents' groups will take their fight against mining under the town to the Environment Court. Photo / Alan Gibson
Waihi residents' groups will take their fight against mining under the town to the Environment Court. Photo / Alan Gibson

Waihi residents' groups fighting a company's plans to mine beneath their homes are taking their battle to the Environment Court.

Newmont Waihi Gold last night announced it would also appeal against the decision granting resource consent for its billion-dollar Correnso mine beneath the Hauraki town's east side.

The company says the mine it plans to build directly below Waihi East would pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy and sustain employment for hundreds of staff for years longer.

But despite strict conditions set down under the consent limiting the magnitude and number of blasts, many residents are worried over the effects on their health, homes and property values.

Giving reasons for its appeal, the Waihi East Ratepayers Group Inc (WERGI) said the approved consent conditions were not precautionary enough and failed to adequately mitigate effects such as vibration and associated impacts on property values and social wellbeing.

It took issue with support and compensation arrangements, arguing demand would mean an initial $16 million fund set aside for a property support programme would not be enough.

The group was also concerned that two other schemes previously set up by Newmont - the Amenity Effect Programme and Property and Community Improvement Policy - remained voluntary and therefore at risk of being scrapped.

Further, the company did not indemnify property owners regarding withdrawal of insurance cover or increased premiums, and retained the rights to self-monitor its activities, the group said.

In its statement the group took aim at Hauraki District Council, saying it had left homeowners to raise themselves the $75,000 needed to fund their case work.

But Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga said it would have been amiss for his council to have funded any organisation either opposed to or supportive of mining.

Another residents' group, Protection Of Waihi Environment and Ratepayers Incorporated (POWER Inc), yesterday also confirmed they would be appealing.

Newmont has defended its efforts in the community, earlier noting it had funded local primary school and preschool facilities, top-ups for property purchases and insulation for 270 houses, and had also committed $400,000 for Waihi East residents to spend on community amenities.

While there was no fixed time for an Environment Court hearing, the company has also said it expects this would happen some time in the third quarter of the year and it was hoped to have a decision by the end of the year.

- NZ Herald

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