Too close to comfort - that was the message from businesspeople, who own buildings in Waihi's CBD, at a meeting about the proposed Oceanagold Martha Pit expansion.

Loss of profits and tenancies, dropped commercial values and impacts on historical buildings were among worries raised about the proposal to make the pit in the heart of town 40m deeper, 160m longer and 180m wider.

"It's all getting too close for comfort and we're not getting any compensation - so we want some assurances," said Waihi business owner and commercial landlord Mike Reehal.

Mike has $1.8 million invested in commercial buildings in town and owned commercial property in Waihi since the 1960s.

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OceanaGold says it owns all of the properties required to accommodate the proposed Project Quattro with the exception of the Hauraki District Council-owned pensioner flats at the eastern end of Seddon St, which will need to be rebuilt.

New elderly-housing accommodation to be built by the company is proposed between Gilmour and Mueller Sts on land owned by OceanaGold.

Mayor Toby Adams says OceanaGold has been talking with the council for a while about acquiring the Seddon St property and Council has accepted an offer to swap the land for a property it owns between Gilmour and Mueller Sts.

"As part of the offer, the company would build six new elderly-housing units on the property and provide infrastructure for five more future units," he said.

"We've agreed to the swap as it offers many benefits to the community, particularly for our older people.

"However, it's an option for a five-year term, as the land may not be required if the proposed mining project does not go ahead. So, if it does happen, it won't be for a few years yet."

The historical and iconic Cornish pumphouse would also be shifted again, after it was moved in 2006.

At a meeting aimed at businesses last Thursday, about 24 people were told studies on the impacts on property values - including from noise, dust and vibration - would be part of the Project Quattro consent process.

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"Consent conditions are set to levels which are well below those which can cause damage to buildings," says Waihi operation manager Bernie O'Leary.

"In the unlikely event that damage to buildings did occur, the company's 'We Break, We Pay' policy, which has been in operation since Correnso started, would apply."

"Blast vibration in the Martha open pit, while noticeable, will be no more than a large truck travelling down Seddon St," Mr O'Leary said.

However, those at the meeting were told the CBD was not deemed an affected area.

"We're still completing those studies but the commercial area hasn't been identified as likely to be impacted by property values," a company representative said.

Waihi's Mike Reehal says he's not against mining expanding but wants affected commercial property owners to benefit from the same deal as affected homeowners. Photo / Alison Smith.
Waihi's Mike Reehal says he's not against mining expanding but wants affected commercial property owners to benefit from the same deal as affected homeowners. Photo / Alison Smith.

If allowed, the former Pye building in which OceanaGold currently operates in town would be reduced to a quarter of its size as the top end of Martha and Haszard Sts would disappear with the pit expansion.

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There would be drill, blast, load and haul methods used at the surface.

Business owners were told practices could be used to reduce the vibrations.

But Mike said he feared his international tenants might choose to leave if they decided the impact of blasting vibrations put staff and customers at risk. His own growing business on Seddon St would also suffer if he could not sell as the mine grew closer.

"I am not against mining. They [the mining industry] have got on with people for 30-odd years but, if they want to push the limits, you have got to pay to play.

"With tenants getting nervous who can legitimately exit under Health and Safety legislation, we haven't got a leg to stand on."

He said he wanted commercial building owners to be given the same treatment as residential property owners.

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"They'll bend over backwards for the residents, which is fair enough, but we've got the same problems owning commercial property, and financial lives are at risk."

He said many business owners rented their buildings and so might not have the same risk as building owners.

"I've got $1.8 million sitting [in property] and I'm worried."

The Cornish pumphouse, weighing 1840 tonnes and standing three storeys high, was moved in its entirety 300m away to its present site in 2006.

Mr O'Leary said Oceanagold staff were happy to visit local firms at a time that suited them.

OceanaGold owns more than 100 residential properties and smaller number of commercial properties.

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