Mining protesters 'turn off' Coromandel drill

The group arrived at around 11am, crossing the marked worksite boundary (supplied)
The group arrived at around 11am, crossing the marked worksite boundary (supplied)

Coromandel conservation group Protect Karangahake has staged another protest at Newcrest Mining Ltd's gold exploration drilling rig on the side of Mt Karangahake, temporarily shutting down the drill.

The group arrived at around 11am, crossing the marked worksite boundary. Newcrest says the drill rig was immediately shut down for the safety of the drilling team and the protesters.

Police were called and issued five of the protesters with trespass notices. The group left the site about two hours after arriving, at which time drilling started up again.

Protect Karangahake chairman Duncan Shearer says the group wants to protect the mountain from mining "however necessary".

"Karangahake is a precious ecological corridor and a visitor hotspot. Each year locals and tens of thousands of visitors come here to enjoy the regenerating native flora and fauna, and we think that is worth protecting."

Mr Shearer says the "growing tourism industry" would sustain the local community and economy far better than mining.

"We realised that letting them sample is the start of a slippery slope, potentially leading to full-scale mining and all the contamination and degradation that comes with it," he says.

A Newcrest spokesperson says district permits and landowner permission is sought before any work commences.

"Environmental management plans are developed to identify and outline controls to prevent potential environmental impacts during the establishment of the drill site and during drilling activity.

"All drill sites will be fully rehabilitated once drilling has been completed."

Last Tuesday, the same group protested outside the site and delivered a letter to the mining company, which is based in Australia.

Newscrest is one of the world's largest gold mining companies, with mines in Australia, Papaua New Guinea, Indonesia and West Africa.

The current drill site is on two exploration areas -- Waitekauri and Owharoa -- under current permits issued by the New Zealand Government.

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