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Protests over under-house gold mining

Monday 3 Dec 2012 5:36 p.m.

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Some Waihi residents aren’t happy about a Waihi mining company’s proposal to mine an area beneath their houses in the east of the town.

A public hearing has begun to decide whether Newmont Waihi Gold can expand its operations, and today residents were protesting.

Newmont, a global mining corporation, wants to build an underground mine called Correnso, which would include tunnelling between 130m and 350m below some houses.

"Can you imagine, they're currently blasting 500m away, imagine when they're 130m under your bed,” Waihi East Ratepayers Group spokesman Terry Podmore says.

Earlier today, about 50 people turned up to a local hall where the company outlined its case for resource consent. Newmont Waihi Gold spokesman Sefton Darby says the blasting will be minimal.

"We're talking about just under a minute of blasting per day if the proposed mine goes ahead, and what the independent commissioners have got to weigh that up against is the continued employment for 400-plus people."

Newmont says it will help residents to sell up and leave if they don't like it, and for people who like the area and don’t want to leave, Mr Darby says they should consider the jobs which are at risk.

"I guess I'd ask them to consider the rights of the people who have employment here as well. Waihi's a pretty vibrant town, you can walk down this main street and there's not a closed shop - now that comes from people like me and people like the people that work with me coming and spending their money on a daily basis."

A report distributed at the meeting lists 502 submissions. The majority of those - more than 70 percent - are supportive. Just over 20 percent are opposed and the rest are neutral, or supportive with conditions.

The hearing is expected to take three weeks.

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