Newmont Waihi Gold expects to start work on its controversial $1 billion Correnso underground mine next year, depending on how long project appeals take.
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,
The mine has had strict conditions enforced around blasting activities and faced backlash from concerned homeowners and environmentalists.
The company has already been knocked back on the wider Golden Link Project Area and says that it, and opponents to Correnso, will have until Wednesday to lodge appeals following the decision by planning commissioners, The New Zealand Herald reports.
Newmont Waihi Gold general manager Glen Grindlay said assuming there is an appeal, the Environment Court will set a negotiation timetable between the parties to see what matters can be resolved without a hearing.
If a hearing is needed the court would then schedule dates and set deadlines for the exchange of evidence.
While no hearing dates have been set, Grindlay said the company expects it to take place in the third quarter of the year, with a decision reached by year end.
The project’s capital and operating expenditure is expected to total about $1 billion and development work is scheduled for mid-2014, with production starting 12 months later.
Knocking back the company’s Golden Link project is not critical to the existing operations or to Correnso.
"However, the need to permit any extensions to Correnso will increase the cost of development and may affect the viability of some of those potential extensions," Grindlay said.
Australian Mining has previously reported Grindlay saying 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.