A new underground mine has been approved for Waihi East in New Zealand, giving miners the go ahead to mine gold and silver beneath local homes.
An independent commissioners’ hearing panel considering Newmont Waihi Gold's application to construct and operate the Correnso underground mine in Waihi East was made public on Tuesday morning.
The panel granted approval for the project subject to strict conditions.
In its decision the commissioners stated:
'We are satisfied that the development of the Correnso Underground Mine will, subject to appropriate conditions, enable people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing. The potential of natural and physical resources to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations will be achieved, while the life-supporting capacity of the local environment will be appropriately safeguarded. The adverse effects of the proposal will be avoided, remedied or mitigated, subject to the imposition of appropriate conditions'.
The Correnso mine will be the first to be dug directly underneath a residential area. Underground tunnelling to the mine site is expected 150 to 300 metres beneath Gladstone and Walmsley Roads in Waihi East, Sunlive East reported.
Newmont Waihi Gold general manager Glen Grindlay says that the company is pleased with the decision to approve the mine but expected appeals from activists.
'We anticipate that some objectors may wish to appeal the decision or seek alternative conditions through the Environment Court, and it is highly likely that we will also lodge an appeal to address some conditions,” he said.
About 500 written submissions were received on the application. While most supported the project, 115 opposed it.
Grindlay says that Newmont is 'in this for the long haul', stating that the company has committed several million dollars to the Waihi community.
'We have funded the Waihi Community Forum which appointed an Independent Review Panel that has just recommended that the company purchase seven residential properties in the Correnso area at a cost of approximately $2m with the same amount again yet to be spent,” he said.
"We have contributed significant funds to the Waihi East community through the 'Top Up' programme for property purchases; the 'Healthy Home's programme will see 270 homes insulated for free; the 'Streets Ahead' programme has committed $400,000 for Waihi East residents to spend on community amenities and we have committed funds to the local primary school and preschool facilities. All of this was committed prior to this announcement and all but the insulation programme will continue if the mine goes ahead."
'We firmly believe that Correnso will provide significant benefits for the town and the people of Waihi'.
The mine is expected to have a 20-year lifespan and employ around 400 fulltime workers
Tunnelling from the nearby by Favona and Trio mines is expected to begin in the coming months.