Community group in New Zealand worried about OceanaGold’s project

A community group from New Zealand’s Waihi town, in the North Island’s Hauraki district, is expressing concerns over plans announced by OceanaGold Corporation (TSX/ASX: OGC) to mine for gold under the nearby open Martha pit.

This week, the Melbourne-based company presented its project to the District Council. The Martha Project exploration target is the first stage of an anticipated 10-year mine life extension for the historic Martha Underground Mine. It comprises two mining areas below the current Martha Pit, including Phase 4 of the Martha Open Pit and the Martha Underground Mine. According to OceanaGold, Phase 4 contains approximately 77,000 ounces of gold in P&P Reserves, while the expectation for Martha Underground is an exploration target of between 500,000 ounces and 700,000 ounces of gold.

Mining at the site stopped in April 2015 when a major slip and a rockfall affected the area. Reminiscences of this accident combined with the idea of an expanded mine are causing concerns among residents in adjacent neighbourhoods.

At a town meeting with company representatives following OceanaGold’s commencement of the permitting process, citizens and members of the environmental organization The Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki said they feared the potential vibrations from underground drilling could cause another wall collapse. They also expressed worry over excessive noise from blasting and damages to their houses.

Later on, the activist group took its complaints to social media. “OceanaGold has announced that they are extending the life of the Martha mine – by mining underneath the Pit. Yep, the same pit with the collapsing walls…. but wait, there’s more! They are also looking to mine under even more homes in Waihi Town – in Mueller Street and Gilmour Streets north of Kenny Street. This unsustainable industry has had this town by the proverbial for years – many times longer than the mine was originally consented for,” a Facebook post reads.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the Australian miner mitigates the impact of its activities by contributing $300,000 per year to the town. The firm also plans to continue hosting community meetings to follow up on residents’ concerns.