It's business as usual for New Talisman Gold Mine chief executive Matt Hill despite the Minister of Conservation's announcement of stronger protections for conservation land.

New Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage announced last week the Government would make public conservation land off-limits for new mining.

"Public conservation lands are set aside for nature to thrive and for New Zealanders and visitors to enjoy. Mining, especially open-cast mining, runs counter to that."

Hill said the Talisman Mine operated under existing consents and was not open-cast.


"Our activities, which commenced some time ago, are all underground within the footprint of the existing mine workings which have been actively mined on and off for over 100 years.

"We are currently prospecting with a resource consent for bulk sampling allowing extraction of 100,000 tonnes per annum. We are compliant with all local and regional planning laws."

The company's confidence in the local gold supply was boosted since it discovered high-quality gold at the Karangahake site a few months ago.

"The entire resource is worth over half a billion dollars at the current US gold price," Hill said.

But New Talisman would need a consent from Hauraki District Council and Waikato Regional Council before mining commercially.

North of Karangahake lies another New Talisman prospect that Hill was confident could be developed further.

"We are currently developing a significant exploration programme to expand on the Rahu resource which already holds over 40,000 ounces of gold with a global exploration target of over half a million ounces."

Sage said mining could cause significant environmental damage to conservation lands.


"It destroys indigenous vegetation and habitats, permanently changes natural landscapes and can create sizeable waste rock dumps with a risk of acid mine drainage polluting waterways."

The Government's decision was applauded by anti-mining and conservation groups Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki and Forest and Bird.

"The mining industry now knows that they will not be allowed to open new mines in our conservation estate and the community now has certainty conservation land will now be for conservation," Watchdog spokeswoman Augusta Macassey-Pickard said.

Sage said the government was committed to helping Coromandel workers make a transition from mining into other industries.