Gold diggers may harm the land, warn Greens

By Kiri Gillespie of the Bay of Plenty Times -
Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty says people needed to be aware of what was at stake with gold mining in Te Puke. File photo / NZ Herald
Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty says people needed to be aware of what was at stake with gold mining in Te Puke. File photo / NZ Herald

Green Party members worried about gold mining in Te Puke are to meet locals to discuss what they see as potential risks to the community.

Catherine Delahunty, Green Party MP for environment and mining, will speak at a meeting on Monday next week to inform Te Puke residents about what they could be letting themselves in for, should exploratory gold mining in the area expand into a large-scale operation.

Diamond drilling and exploration mining for gold and silver was already under way at Muir's Reef mine on No.4 Rd, 15 minutes drive from Te Puke township.

Ms Delahunty said people needed to be aware of what was at stake.

There were concerns about the impact on local environment, specifically the endangered Hochstetter's Frog, kiwi and kokako and the risk to local water supply catchments.

Tauranga Green Party candidate Ian McLean said the party acknowledged some mining was necessary to support modern lifestyles.

"We are not against mining ... per se but we are against that mining which is destructive to the environment," Dr McLean said.

"Gold mining... creates run-off and no matter how much mining companies insist they will curtail and manage run-off, there is always down stream pollution.

"It's impossible to stop run-off in to streams and contaminants are quite toxic. That run-off goes down into creeks and goes into our estuaries, so there are consequential issues around mining that needs to be addressed before anything goes ahead."

Glass Earth is the company involved in the operations in No.4 Rd. Chief operating officer Simon Henderson said the area involved was farmland and nobody would be displaced by mining and no areas of significant natural value would be destroyed.

Mr Henderson said the company had no plans to expand to a large gold mining operation but had received "encouraging results", allowing for mining to continue until at least the end of this year.

The only community feedback on the set up of a potential goldmine had been positive, despite concerns raised by the Green Party, he said.

"Te Puke is struggling with the devastating effects of Psa which has left a large hole economically and socially with many people leaving the area.

"Gold mining is a golden opportunity for Te Puke to have a new stream of development which does not rely on kiwifruit and will inject jobs and money into the local economy," Mr Henderson said.

The No.4 Rd property is owned by Alex Muir, who declined to comment yesterday.

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