Residents above the newly opened Waihi Rex vein will meet with OceanaGold next week where the company is expected to answer questions from affected property owners about its compensation policies.

Some 25 property owners above the Rex vein have been identified by the company and have been invited to meet about what will happen now that the company has received its consents to mine. They are in the area bound by Kenny St in the south, Mueller St in the west and the eastern side of Gilmour St in the East.

The meeting follows confirmation that open pit and underground mining — including under these residential properties south of the current Waihi pit — will start up again from around mid-year.

No appeals were received by Hauraki District Council, clearing the way for the company and its contractors and staff to give assurances to supporters of mining in Waihi that they will have another 10 years of work ahead.

Advertisement

"We still have a significant amount of preparatory work to do, and even when we do get back into Martha it will be quite sometime before the familiar says OceanaGold Waihi General Manager Bernie O'Leary.

He says the hearing process gave people the opportunity to have their say and the decision gave surety to staff and contractors.

Among submitters was the Waihi Community Forum, lobbying for a continuation of compensation to property owners impacted by mining operations.

A top-up scheme for homeowners impacted by the Correnso mine operation was stopped in March 2016 after the real estate market had re-established itself.

Senior Community Advisor Kit Wilson says more than  25 properties are likely to be eligible for the top up scheme, in which the market value of a home is "topped up" by

OceanaGold if the owner should wish to sell and does not receive a fair offer.

He says the number of properties is much smaller than those offered compensation through Correnso.

One property had been purchased by the company already, and another sale facilitated through Top Up.

"Rex is a tiny little vein that will take one year to mine and two years to get there. With Rex we're continuing the same programme [Top Up scheme].

"There'll always be discussions around how wide the top up [compensation] area will go. For us it's about maintaining the integrity of the market.

"Those people directly above and beside the mining operation are always the ones whose property prices are immediately affected.

He says the top up allowed the housing market to maintain a balance without affecting it one way or another as purchasers of property and as a mining company operating right in town.

Meanwhile last week, OceanaGold Waihi mine staff returned to the bottom of the Martha open pit for the first time since 2015, on January 29.

Company staff tunnelled from the Correnso mine, with a breakthrough into the pit happening at 1.30pm.

"We broke through into the open pit at the 920 level, which is about 200 metres below the pit rim. Staff are currently installing ground support in the drive (tunnel) and at the portal. A large fan to draw air out of the mine at a rate of about three cubic metres a second will then be installed and the air will continue to be sucked in to the mine at the Baxter Road portal.

Kit says that the best place to see the new portal is at the fence near the Education Centre.

"Look for a white shipping container right at the very bottom of the pit. The portal is just to the right of that."

Waihi produced 83,492 in 2018 and expects to produce around 65,000 ounces this year.

Project Martha, the underground extension, is expected to need between 250 and 350 full-time staff and 50 and 100 additional contractors.