Waihi gold mine seeks extension
Wed, 26 Sep 2012 6:12p.m.
By Tom McCrae
The company which runs the Waihi gold mine wants to extend its underground operations, and if approved it would see it be the first mine in New Zealand to tunnel directly under people's homes.
Forty properties sit directly over the proposed mine extension, which at its shallowest would be 130m below the surface and extend to 350m at its deepest point.
But Newmont mine says there is no risk of subsidence to the land above.
“For every truck of rock we take out of the ground we actually send one down underground to fill any cavities that we leave so we're incredibly confident,” says Newmont mine manager Sefton Darby. “We back fill all the areas.”
Because of that, Newmont guarantees no repeat of what happened in 2001 when a sinkhole opened up, after an old tunnel left by a previous mining company collapsed.
But even though by law every new tunnel would have to be filled, real concern in the town remains.
“I really feel for those houses that are going to be above it and what it might do to their property values,” says Hauraki District Mayor John Tregidga.
Without the extension the mine will close in 2015 and 400 jobs will be lost.
“Most of these guys who are employed here, [with] their skills there's not a lot of other avenues in New Zealand for them so you'd find you'd have a lot of Kiwis leaving,” says the mine’s underground manager Charlie Gawith.
Waihi has been a mining town for more than a century and some there are worried that if the mine goes the heart of the town will go with it.
“It's a mining town and has been for many years, and I think it would have real economic effects on employment and on the rest of the town if mining wasn't going to continue,” says Mr Tregidga.
Submissions close on Friday, but it's set to be a long drawn-out process to see if the life of not just the mine, but Waihi itself, will be extended.
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27/09/2012 10:00:42 a.m.
It looks like we'll do anything for the almighty dollar in New Zealand now. Mine under people's houses, vote against protecting the Maui dolphin and against the Ross Sea sanctuary. There goes our clean green, 100% Pure image - which is worth billions to our economy.
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