Waihi knows the pros and cons of mining

  • Breaking
  • 23/03/2010

By Samantha Hayes

One town that know exactly the repercussions of mining is Waihi – it's got an open cast mine right in the centre of town.

It is an incredible sight: a massive hole 200m deep in the centre of Waihi township.

Before the mine opened 22 years ago, could Waihi have imagined what it would be like?

“That hole over there shouldn't be there, and they say they're going to drill more and they say they're going to fill it up; there's holes all under the ground in Waihi,” says local resident Adrienne Madisen.

Others say the open mine has no impact on them whatsoever.

“Other than the fact that I run round the pit rim every day, it's had no impact on my life,” says Pauline Davison.

Still others say the giant hole has its benefits.

“I think its good because it creates wealth for our town, creates prosperity,” says Charles Poarau.

Some are so against it they call themselves "DRAT" – the Distressed Resident's Action Team.

Collette Spalding says the mining intrudes on their lives in many ways.

“The noise, the dust, the blasting vibrations, property devaluations, inability to sell properties that are too close to the project,” she says.

Kelvyn Eglinton from Newmont Waihi Gold says yes, those things are hard to ignore but it has done Waihi a lot of good.

“We've got a wage bill of around $10 million, $40 million of goods and services, salaries, that stays within the Waihi community, so that's good for it,” he says.

“If the community had their time again, we might take a different form of mining.”

Newmont Waihi Gold are only recovering about 16 grams of gold per truck from the mine – they say the rich veins are much deeper and they wouldn't ever consider starting another open cast mine in the Coromandel.

“Newmont has said quite clearly that in terms of the Coromandel, the regional exploration, our focus is on underground mining for us,” he says.

They've taken two million ounces of gold from the pit; the profits go offshore to the American owners and because of a licensing anomaly, no royalties are paid to the Government from the open cast mine.

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