By 3 News online staff with NZN
Waihi residents will be literally sitting on a goldmine after a US-based mining company won the right to dig for the precious metal directly below 45 homes.
An independent commissioners' hearing has granted consent to Newmont Waihi Gold to develop the Correnso mine, a 24-hour, 7-day operation underground in the small Coromandel township.
Correnso will be the first mine in the town to be constructed directly underneath a residential area.
The mine will sit 350 metres below ground and will employ 400 full-time workers, many of whom are transferring from other nearby mining operations drawing to a close.
About 500 written submissions were received on the application, with most supporting the project and 115 opposed to it.
Green Party mining spokesperson Catherine Delahunty says the decision to go ahead with the mine sets a "dangerous precedent."
"Although the affected residents had their day in court, it was a David and Goliath situation. The local people couldn't afford expert testimony to dispute the company's experts.
“Given the depressed housing market in Waihi, affected residents are now at the mercy of Newmont to buy them out, or they must live with the effects of the vibrations and noise."
The council has placed strict guidelines on the size and frequency of the mining blasts and has limited the mine's operation to 10 years initially.
Newmont Waihi Gold general manager Glen Grindlay says they anticipate that some objectors may wish to appeal the decision, "or seek alternative conditions through the Environment Court."
"It is highly likely that we will also lodge an appeal to address some conditions," he says.
Mr Grindlay says the company has committed "several million dollars to the Waihi East Community" and believes the project will provide "significant benefits for the town and people of Waihi."
Building of the Correnso Underground Mine is set to begin this winter.