Seventy-eight-year-old Reg Turner can call himself a Waihi local and still voice opposition to the expansion of mining in the town.

"Waihi has always been on the losing end. It never got anything out of it," he says.

Reg was born in Waihi, as was his father, and his family on his grandmother's side arrived in Waihi from the Brunner mine in Westland's Grey Valley.

He says he does not like the OceanaGold proposal for a vast expansion in operations for many reasons.


"I know underneath the pit is real hard rock, so there's going to be heavy ground shaking going on."

Uncertainty over property values and purchases by the company, and what will happen when mining finishes, is also worrying Reg.

"What I don't like about it is how they're picking houses off piecemeal. They take a little bit more and slowly taking properties over."

Reg's family was around when the Martha Mine closed in 1952.

"There was a sign that said 'Waihi - Ghost Town'.

"When you look at the mine it's not really Waihi people they're employing. It's people come from New Guinea, Australia, all around, they follow mines. You get people that float around and follow the money.

"They say they're employing Waihi people but do they call people coming to Waihi to be employed at the mine Waihi people?"

"When it's finished, half the town will walk, just like when they closed the Waihi mine in the 1950s."

aihi residents and businesses are positive overall about the economic impact of mining in the community, according to an annual survey by Phoenix Research funded by the mining company. It found 83 per cent of residents and 96 per cent of businesses see the industry as very positive or positive.


However, the figures drop when respondents are asked about confidence over impacts on local property, 50 per cent of businesses saying they were "very" or "quite" confident about how OceanaGold manages impacts and 46 per cent or residents being similarly positive.

The company counted 79 per cent of its workforce as living locally and contractor employees at 81 per cent, in 2017.

The same researchers reported a rise in overseas applicants applying for jobs to 32 per cent in 2017, with locals making up 17 per cent of applicants. Eighty-eight per cent of staff and 87 per cent of contractors are men.

Hauraki District Council has not yet received any application for the announced expansion.

It says once that is received, it will use independent professionals and independent
commissioners will be engaged to listen to community feedback and make a decision.

"At this stage there are still many unknowns. Once we receive an application from the
company there's a robust process to go through that will allow community feedback via
formal written submissions," Mayor Toby Adams said.


"We'll ensure all information is available to the community as soon as possible."

OceanaGold owns just over 100 residential properties and a smaller number of commercial properties. Most of these are in Waihi East above the Correnso mine.

OceanaGold general manager Waihi, Bernie O'Leary, said the impact of large-scale housing purchases would be managed and was subject to Overseas Investment Office rules.

"In addition to those which we currently own, we can only purchase as many properties as
the Overseas Investment Office gives us consent to. The company is awaiting a
decision from the OIO regarding our most recent application."

He said under Correnso and Project Martha consent conditions, OceanaGold is required to offer to purchase any properties under which it mines and offer an ex gratia payment to owners of those properties under which it tunnels.

"As Correnso is completed and mining there ends, we will be putting more company-owned residential properties on the market. This will be managed to ensure that we do not impact on the availability and affordability of housing in Waihi."


Waihi ward councillor Brian Gentil says he is available to speak to if anyone wanted to talk about the proposal.

Information is available on OceanaGold's website and the company has set up a shop at 86 Seddon St.