A West Coast man who admitted illegally mining gold on his own property was today discharged without conviction in the Greymouth District Court.
Daniel Scheepers, 55, appeared for sentence after he last month admitted a charge of contravening the Minerals Act by mining 2.45 ounces of gold on his Moonlight Rd property in January this year.
The court heard that Scheepers mistakenly believed he had approval to mine, having been told by the West Coast Regional Council that if the area to be mined was less than 5000 cubic metres, he did not need a licence from the council.
What was not explained to him, he said, was that he still needed a permit from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Judge Jane Farish accepted that Scheepers genuinely did not know he needed the permit from MBIE and that he had approached the council a number of times to make sure that he was doing everything legally.
Judge Farish noted that there had been similar situations in other parts of the country, including Tasman and Otago, in relation to individual councils' rules and the need to comply with MBIE regulations.
"There is this confusion where people are approaching councils but they don't understand the overarching need for a mining permit (from MBIE).''
Scheepers was ordered make a $1000 donation to the Pike River Families Group Committee.
- Greymouth Star