Anti-mining group roadblock disrupts access to drilling site

By Lindy Laird

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Protesters at the site on Puhipuhi mountain where the anti-mining group claims Evolution Mining is drilling.
Protesters at the site on Puhipuhi mountain where the anti-mining group claims Evolution Mining is drilling.

Police were called to a roadblock staged by an anti-mining group on Puhipuhi Rd at dawn yesterday, where drilling contractors' access to their work site was disrupted.

Other than forcing the workers to take a longer route, there were no problems caused by the protest and no arrests.

The Action Co-ordination Group (ACG) said that while most of the road users are locals, yesterday's picket was timed to coincide with Evolution's contractors' shift changes.

ACG held the protest in the pre-dawn darkness "to put a spotlight on Evolution's activities" it said, alluding to its claims the Australian mining company brought in its drilling equipment last month "under cover of dark".

But Evolution says the machinery was taken to the site in the early hours of the morning for traffic safety reasons, not subterfuge.

Yesterday's action was "an information picket for travellers on Puhipuhi Rd" about the land where explorative bore holes were being sunk, ACG spokesman Tim Howard said.

"We want to inform and show the representatives of Evolution Mining Ltd and their contractors that their companies' activities are not wanted in this community. We also want to inform members of the community about what is going on."

Evolution said it has tried to engage with locals to explain their plans and environmental safety programme. The anti-mining lobby has consistently urged people not to meet with the company.

Meanwhile, Evolution and the Department of Conservation (DoC) have poured cold water on ACG's claims the company has been probing for gold under conservation land.

Mr Howard admitted a statement it had made to that effect last week was not correct.

But while the site was not part of the high value DoC conservation estate, it was adjacent to Crown land subject to a Waitangi Treaty claim by Ngati Hau, he said.

Mr Howard said ACG planned further protests and awareness-raising activities.

- Northern Advocate

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