Underground mining in Waihi has been approved by the Hauraki District Council.

OceanaGold has received the notification although it is subject to the outcome of the appeal process that will close at the end of January 2019.

Waihi general manager Bernie O'Leary says if there are no appeals he would expect work to begin in the new Martha underground mine by about the middle of next year.

Project Martha will also see mining return to the open pit. There will also be some underground mining just south of the current pit under residential properties.
O'Leary has welcomed the decision.

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"This is good for the company and good for Waihi. We now have 10 years of work ahead of us. This gives our 350 staff and contractors, and the people of Waihi an assurance that we are here for the long term."

The consent follows a week of hearings in November.

Three independent commissioners considered submissions from OceanaGold, Hauraki District Council and Waikato Regional Council. There were also submissions from Ngati Hako, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, Fish & Game New Zealand, New Zealand Transport Agency, Waihi Community Forum as well as local individuals.

Hauraki District deputy mayor Toby Adams says since purchasing the Waihi Gold Mine from Newmont Mining Corporation in October 2015, OceanaGold has been actively engaged in exploration work and the resource consent applications came as no surprise. He expects further exploration work will continue.

"When making a decision on any proposed project it's important to consider the current needs of all sectors of the community and the needs of future generations too.

"That's why we've used independent commissioners to listen to all views and make informed and unbiased decisions on this project."

OceanaGold lodged resource consent applications in June with the Hauraki District and Waikato Regional councils for its proposed Project Martha.

The project includes work to stabilise the north wall of the open Martha Pit and to re-instate the pit haul road to allow access to the bottom of the pit for mining.

New underground mining will take place beneath the pit and also within the Rex vein which is situated under a reserve/residential area from the rugby clubrooms to the Mueller and Kenny St intersection.

The applications also included the subdivision of a piece of company-owned residential land on the corner of Bulltown and Cambridge roads. The subdivided piece of land will be used for a road realignment.