Old gold mine will be cleaned to protect environment

By Kate Shuttleworth

The historic gold mine at Waiuta. File Photo / NZ Herald
The historic gold mine at Waiuta. File Photo / NZ Herald

An old gold mining site polluted with arsenic will be cleaned up later this year to protect the wider environment.

Environment Minister Amy Adams and Conservation Minister Nick Smith today confirmed the Government's commitment to clean up the Waiuta site on the West Coast.

The Prohibition Mine site was contaminated through the processing of ore for gold when the mill was operating between 1938 and 1951.

Dr Smith said testing at the Victoria Forest Park site had identified very high levels of arsenic in the soil and water.

"That poses a risk to people and the environment - the site has been fully fenced but we need to get on and clean up the contamination to protect the wider environment."

The contaminated site covers half a hectare and was inherited by the Department of Conservation (DoC) when it was formed in 1987.

Ms Adams said the Government had committed $28 million towards cleaning up contaminated sites and the Prohibition site would cost $600,000 to fix.

"Clean-ups have been completed on the old pesticide plant at Mapua and more recently on the Tui Mine site at Te Aroha in the Waikato. This Prohibition Mine site is now our top priority for clean-up."

The clean-up plan being developed by DoC is likely to involve cleaning the condensing tower, removing arsenic-contaminated soil, securing it in sealed barrels in a watertight pit and capping the surface around the pit and tower.

The remediation will also involve a water treatment plant.

The cost will be equally split between the Environment Ministry's contaminated sites remediation fund and DoC.

- APNZ

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