A historic goldmining area on the border of Arthur's Pass National Park could be reopened for mining if a new prospecting permit is successful.
On July 25, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals granted Willberg Resources Limited a two-year permit to explore a 254 square kilometre section south of Inchbonnie and Jacksons.
The company plans to perform magnetic geophysical surveying of the area to identify target areas for mining of gold, magnesium, lead, zinc, silver and other minerals.
Hokitika farmer Colin Jackson grew up in Otira and remembers his father panning for gold in Seven Mile Creek.
"There's gold in the area, but it's just a matter of finding it," he said.
"Every flood, a new lot of gold turned up, but they could never find where it was coming from."
The mining company in the area eventually ran out of gold and went broke.
"That possibly came from inexperience. They didn't have the gear they've got today."
Mr Jackson did a lot of hunting and tramping in the region in his younger days.
"It's very steep, very rugged. The people that put the aerial in at Jacksons, they (deserved) a medal."
Wainihinihi farmer Patrick Fitzgerald, whose son used to mine for alluvial gold on Seven Mile Creek, said the area was explored by geologist Dr J M Bell in 1906.
"All the pack tracks were put in for gold years ago."
There was a quartz mine and quartz stamping batteries up on Bald Range above Seven Mile, and gold prospectors panned for gold in the rivers and streams.
"One of the richest bits of quartz came out of the Arahura," he said.
The area was previously part of a prospecting permit held by Altan Minerals Ltd, which undertook very limited exploration.
Almost all previous exploration in the area has centred on alluvial small-scale mining operations.
Willberg chief executive Al Richardson said it was "also interested in the gold-bearing quartz lodes found within the basement rocks that had been identified by explorers in the early part of last century".
Department of Conservation Hokitika area manager Ian McClure said Arthur's Pass National Park would not be at risk from mining in this area.
Willberg Resources Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hardie Resources, a small New Zealand-owned and operated company based in Wellington.By Christine Linnell of the Greymouth Star