A proposed new underground mine at Wharekirauponga, just north of Waihi, (under Department of Conservation land), is part of a proposal for extending the life of mining in Waihi to 2037 and beyond.
Mining company OceanaGold presented updated plans to the Council on Wednesday 16 June that it says could bring 350 new jobs to the region.
Two new mining sites proposed
Hauraki District Mayor Toby Adams said that since the company presented its Project Quattro proposal to Council in July last year, it has established the viability of mining a large gold and silver resource deposit beneath Wharekirauponga and a smaller deposit near Gladstone Hill. Consequently it has signaled its intention to seek approval to mine these new deposits.
Waihi North Project and Martha Open Pit Project
Project Quattro has been reworked and split into two new proposals called the Waihi North Project and the Martha Open Pit project. The proposed Waihi North Project includes the new underground mine along with the supporting infrastructure; a new Tailings Storage Facility TSF3; a new open pit mine directly to the west of the current processing plant; a rock storage facility (Northern Rock Stack) to the north of the current tailings storage facilities and an upgrade to the company’s processing plant.
The Waihi North Project will integrate with the proposed Martha Open Pit project which includes expansion of the existing Martha Pit; a raise to the crest of the proposed Tailings Storage Facility,TSF3, and an increase in volumne for the proposed Northern Rock Stack.
Complex RMA process ahead
“These new proposals have the potential to see mining extended in Waihi to 2037, which will bring measurable economic benefits to the town and district. However, there is a complex and rigorous legal RMA process ahead with many things to consider before any mining can occur”, said Mayor Adams.
“OceanaGold has to decide what consent pathway it will follow for the proposed Waihi North project, and once that is determined, we’ll know what our role in the process will be. We’ve been told the company will focus on the Waihi North application process first, followed by the Martha Open Pit project application”.
Martha Open Pit Project requires a change to the District Plan
Before a resource consent can be lodged for the Martha Open Pit project, the company will need to apply for a change to the District Plan to allow for the boundaries of the current Martha pit to be extended. This will involve public consultation. A change to the District Plan doesn’t mean mining can go ahead. Any mining activity is controlled by the Resource Management Act, so a resource consent is still needed even if the plan change gets approved.
No applications lodged as yet
“At this stage we have not received any applications but the company has indicated we might receive something before the end of the year”, said Mayor Toby.
“What’s important is to keep the interests of everyone in our Waihi community including residents, ratepayers and businesses at the forefront of these proposed projects. At this stage, there are still many unknowns, so we’ll ensure information is available to the community as we receive it.”