What is Project Quattro?
The project proposed by OceanaGold has four main components:
- An extension to Martha Open Pit (involves moving the Cornish Pumphouse, pensioner units, roads, etc.)
- A new, smaller open pit to the west of the processing plant.
- A new tailings storage area next to the current area
- A new rock storage area
Further information on the proposed project should be sought from OceanaGold in Waihi (www.waihigold.co.nz , 07 863 8192)
Has OceanaGold applied for any consents or plan changes?
Not yet. The company has announced its intentions to apply for resource consents from Hauraki District Council (HDC) and Waikato Regional Council (WRC) to authorise Project Quattro, but we haven’t received any applications from the company at this stage. We’re expecting to receive applications around the end of November. We also expect the company will approach us to make changes to some of our roads and other community assets. We’ll let you know when we hear more.
What happens when the Council receives an application?
Once the company has lodged its applications to Hauraki District Council and WRC, the Councils have specific requirements and timeframes in the Resource Management Act that they must follow.
HDC will use an independent planner to assess any applications received from OceanaGold and independent commissioners to make decisions on the applications. There will be a chance for people to make formal submissions on what OceanaGold propose and the Council will employ experts to assess possible effects (e.g. noise, vibration, etc.) on people and the environment, and any matters raised in submissions.
Is there any cost to ratepayers for assessing Project Quattro?
No. We can recover all “actual and reasonable” processing costs from the mining company, including the cost of hiring technical experts, lawyers, hearing commissioners, etc. The one exception to this is if appeals against our decision are lodged with the Environment Court. In this case we have to pay our own costs to defend our decision.
Why is mining allowed in Waihi?
Mining is a legitimate activity in New Zealand – it’s not illegal and people are able to apply to the Waikato Regional Council and Hauraki District Council to carry out mining activities, just as they can apply for resource consent to build a retirement village or supermarket. However, before applying to the Council for permission to mine, people must have a Mining Permit from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals. The Government controls access to Crown owned minerals in NZ (i.e. gold, silver, etc.).
We have a robust resource management system in place to assess any such application/s, which may be approved or declined. If approved, conditions will be put in place to avoid, remedy and mitigate effects on people and the environment. Council’s role is to process the application according to the rules in the District Plan and Resource Management Act (RMA).
How safe are the tailings storage areas?
OceanaGold already owns and operates two tailings storage areas in Waihi, which are engineer designed and constructed of waste rock (not tailings like in some places overseas). They’re built to withstand potential hazards such as flooding and earthquake and regularly monitored for performance and safety by independent experts.
Is it safe to extend the Martha Pit?
Any proposal to extend Martha Pit will be rigorously scrutinised by independent experts from a geotechnical engineering and planning point of view, as part of the resource consent process. The operation of the current mine is regularly monitored and reviewed by independent experts.
How long until there is a Martha Lake?
Once mining stops there will be at least a 12 year period of rehabilitation (including filling the lake) to achieve ‘closure’. Martha Lake is currently expected to be full around 2045 and if Project Quattro is approved it will be full around 2050.
How will the project affect the value of my property?
If the consent is approved, there will be ‘conditions of consent’ to tightly regulate mine operations and effects. While past experience has shown little lasting effect on property values in the town as a result of mining operations, the company has a property programme in place to address any potential issues, and we expect this would continue.
What will happen to Waihi Main Street?
If the project is approved, there may be some disruption to the Main Street, such as noise, dust and vibration. However, we would control these through consent conditions and they are likely to be relatively short-lived, until ground excavation works get below the new pit rim. Other more positive effects would include improved public spaces, an improved pit rim walkway/points of interest, direct viewing access to a working mine (and eventually a lake) for visitors, etc.