Mining company obtains 40-year permit for municipal paper route for $ 1

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The Archey frog is a critically endangered species of New Zealand frog, found in only two places, including between Waihi and Whangamata. Photo / NZ Herald

Mining company OceanaGold may choose to bypass Hauraki District Council authorization processes and go directly to the Environmental Court for its mine expansion project under the protected lands between Waihi and Whangamata .

Earlier this year, the council granted the company the use of a Waihi paper road for $ 1 a year plus GST, council documents reveal, after being informed in June of expansion proposals for OceanaGold as part of public conservation lands.

The company has applied for a permit to occupy council areas on a paper road, Willows Rd, for 40 years.

It was granted to him with one vote against.

OceanaGold Waihi chief operating officer Matt Hine said the company will require consents before it can begin any activity on the roadside reserve.

He confirmed that if consents are granted, it would allow the necessary infrastructure as part of his proposals to develop public conservation lands at Wharekirauponga between Waihi and Whangamata.

Wharekirauponga is public conservation land and a stronghold for the critically endangered native Archey Frog.

It is also considered to be of national importance and an important natural area in the Hauraki district plan.

“We believe we could mine the resource with sensitivity and respect using proven underground methods,” Hine said. “And although we have tested enough rocks to be sure that the gold found at the site could support a mine, we still need to finalize important and detailed studies before applying for resource clearances.

“Mining would only take place if it could be undertaken in a way that preserves cultural, social, recreational and environmental values.”

He confirmed that OceanaGold had obtained council permission to occupy up to four small road reserve areas near DoC lands.

“These small areas of untrained road reserves – paper roads – would be investigated as potential sites for drilling and subsequently ventilation increases that would support our proposed underground mine at Wharekirauponga.”

None of the activities would impede public access, he said.

“We recognize the importance and sensitivity of Wharekirauponga and its ecology, which is an important recreation area for hikers, hunters and campers and is home to valuable native flora and fauna. That’s why any potential mining operation we might undertake in the future would only be underground – not at surface level. “

Mayor Adams said the decision to grant an occupancy permit was made in accordance with the council’s significance and engagement policy.

He said the claimant would expect the claimant to expect consultation with iwi, as well as the DoC, stakeholders and the community before any significant mining activity is proposed.

In the report to the board, he said staff believed the board had “sufficiently understood the views and preferences of the community on this issue” not to consult on the license.

However, the same report acknowledged that other parties “strongly disagreed” with the recommendation.

DoC chief conservation officer Penny Nelson had “serious concerns” about the license of occupation.

“The CEO considers that the license effectively moves the decision-making process away from the legislative mandate of the DoC, which is to ensure the conservation of the Wharekirauponga forest ecosystem,” wrote DoC Hauraki director of operations Avi Holzapfel.

The proposed conditions to protect wildlife, including “frog exclusion fences”, appeared to be copied from the DoC’s access agreement on protected lands. These may not be lawful for the advice to use or apply, he noted.

HDC is expected to consult seven tangata whenua groups to fulfill its legal obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi and the Local Governments Act.

It was also not “appropriate” for HDC to wait for the resource consent process to assess ecological effects.

As of Monday of this week, HDC had not received any inquiries regarding mining activities on the road reserve or for the establishment of a mine in Wharekirauponga.

But Mayor Adams said council is aware that direct referral to the environmental court is a consenting avenue open to OceanaGold.

The company plans to submit consents in 2022, after finalizing its work programs.

“We are still studying our consent options available to us,” said Matt Hine.

“Regardless of our path to consent, and prior to seeking consent, we conduct a comprehensive stakeholder engagement program, which includes opportunities for all of our stakeholders to contribute to the final project design.

“Once we have submitted the application for authorization, the project will also be notified publicly, which means that anyone who wishes can submit a proposal on the project.”

The Green Party has launched a campaign calling on Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan and Energy Minister Megan Woods to keep the Prime Minister’s pledge made in 2017 to ban new mines on protected land.

Former Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said the government must urgently ban any new or expanded mines on protected land.

“There are good reasons for Ministers Allan and Woods to act immediately. At some point in the next few weeks, multinational mining company OceanaGold plans to file resource consents asking councils to approve its plans to mine gold under one of the two remaining habitats for the frog. Archey from Aotearoa in New Zealand.

“The Archey Frog is the smallest of our four native frogs and one of the rarest and most endangered in the world. It is a perfect example of what the government promised to protect when it pledged to ban all new mining on protected land four years ago. “

The Waihi Nord project includes:
• A new surface mine directly west of the OceanaGold Waihi processing plant
• Increased tailings storage capacity by constructing a third tailings storage facility (TSF3) immediately east of the existing facilities and adding tailings storage in the Gladstone surface mine at the end of operations. mining
• A rock storage facility north of the current tailings storage facilities (Northern Rock Stack)
• Increase in production capacity at the existing OceanaGold processing plant.

Surface mine expansion would follow, although the company says it could be “some time” before it resumes work on a resource clearance application for the mine expansion. pit, which would include:

• Numerous road stops and realignments
• Relocation of the historic Cornwall pumping station
• Removal of part of the PYE building and some houses belonging to the company
• Relocation of the noise barrier to the east and a subsequent realignment of the Eastern Stream near Gray Street, and construction of noise barriers around other sections of the pit perimeter to mitigate the impact of the pit. noise on residents
• An elevator on the tailings storage installation project (TSF3)
• An increase in volume for the Northern Rock Stack (NRS) project


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