Gold mining company disappointed at decision
Waihi Gold Mine operator, OceanaGold, has expressed extreme disappointment at the decision by the Minister of Land Information to not allow the company to purchase two farms on the outskirts of Waihi.
Waihi’s Senior Community Advisor, Kit Wilson, said the company had only just received notification at the same time the media release went out.
Land Information Minister Eugenie Eugenie Sage, Minister of Land Information, announced on May 3 that Oceana Gold (New Zealand) Ltd’s application under the Overseas Investment Act to purchase 178 ha of rural land for a new tailings reservoir near Waihi in Coromandel has been declined.
The minister and Associate Finance Minister David Clark considered the application and formed different views as to whether the “substantial and identifiable benefit” to New Zealand test in the Act was met.
The Overseas Investment Act determines that when Ministers form different views on an application it is declined.
Minister Sage does not believe using productive rural farmland to establish a long term tailings reservoir of mining waste creates substantial and identifiable benefits.
Associate Minister Clark believes that the proposed investment is likely to create substantial and identifiable benefits.
“We are disappointed by what we have heard but have not had the opportunity to read the decision in full. We will review the decision and consider our next steps,” says Kit.
“The purchase of these properties would allow us to plan for the future and extend our investment in Waihi beyond the current life of the mine and our significant economic contribution locally, in the Hauraki region and nationally.
“We operate in New Zealand in a responsible way and in line with community expectations and believe we have done that for thirty years at the Waihi, Reefton, and Macraes gold mines.”
Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki welcomes the decision by Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage to decline an application by Oceana Gold to purchase an area of rural land for a new tailings dam.
"We agree with Minister Sage that there are far better uses for our productive land than to be used as a dump for toxic waste," says Augusta Macassey-Pickard, spokesperson for the group. "The existing dam was built on productive farmland, that's more than enough area dedicated to storing this toxic sludge."
Coromandel Watchdog has always argued that one of the most negative elements of industrial gold mining is the toxic legacy left, including the vast stores of toxic waste from the extraction process.
"Many of the most toxic sites in Aotearoa have been mining tailings dams that have been abandoned or failed,” says Augusta. “This is not the sort of legacy that we should be leaving future generations, and it is not the sort of this we should be allowing multinational companies to create and then leave in our country.
“The Waihi area also sits on a significant fault and the ongoing storage of toxic tailings in the area is of real concern from that perspective also.
"Another reason not to allow such a purchase for this purpose, the risks far outweigh the benefit."
OceanaGold Corporation is a multinational gold producer with operations in New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United States. OceanaGold has been operating in New Zealand for 29 years with mining operations at Waihi in the North Island and New Zealand’s largest gold-producing operation, Macraes, in the South Island. The company is also rehabilitating the former Globe Progress Mine at Reefton. The company say they account for around 1 per cent of the country’s exports, with gold in the top three exports to Australia.
OceanaGold’s assets also include the Didipio Operation on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, the Haile Gold Mine, in South Carolina in the United States and a significant pipeline of organic growth and exploration opportunities in the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions. In 2019, the Company expects to produce between 500,000 to 550,000 ounces of gold and 14,000 to 15,000 tonnes of copper at All-In Sustaining Costs ranging between US$850 and US$900 per ounce sold.
On Friday the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approved a separate application from Oceana Gold’s application to buy four residential properties in central Waihi. The residential land is being acquired for purposes incidental to mining activities.
Oceana Gold is considered to be a significant employer in the Waihi region and has undertaken a number of previous investments that are of benefit to New Zealand.
The OIO is satisfied that the investment is likely to benefit NZ.
Further information about this will be published next week. The OIO has proactively released information about the decision on the LINZ website.