Posted by Newmont Waihi Gold on 20/11/2012
Yesterday the Environment Court made public its recommendation on Newmont Waihi Goldâ€™s Martha Exploration Project. The Court has recommended to the Minister of Energy and Resources that approval be given for the project. If approved by the Minister, the decision allows the mining company to tunnel into the north wall of the Martha open pit within the boundaries of the current Martha Mining Licence area.
Exploration operations underground will be permitted 24 hours a day. Activities within the open pit and surface facilities area will be subject to the same conditions and hours of operation that currently apply. There are some minor variations to permitted activities. The Court has recommended MEP as a standalone project that must be completed by 7 July 2017. Any mining project which results from the exploration activities would require a separate application.
In its judgement the Court praised the Newmont Waihi Goldâ€™s community programmes, but also stated that it felt the company could do better in its relationships with iwi.
â€˜We consider the proposed PCIP to hold considerable promise. The focus on the Community Forum and more independent decision-making shifts the power away from Newmont and gives the community a greater say in how financial compensation through the AEP, Top Up and outright property purchase is managed. The provision for expertise in social and health matters is particularly pertinentâ€™.
â€˜It is appropriate to acknowledge the considerable attempts by Newmont to respond in a socially responsible manner to the concerns that have largely resulted from the historic settlement of the township of Waihi in the midst of mining activitiesâ€™.
Newmont Waihi Gold General Manager Glen Grindlay said that while it was heartening to have the project recommended to the Minister by the Environment Court and that the commissioners had accepted the evidence of the expert witnesses who were called to testify, he was aware that the company still had work to do in the local community.
â€˜We know that there are some members of the community who are still unhappy with MEP, and we would like to continue to work with them. Also, the Court has clearly pointed out that we did not do all we could to address the concerns of iwi, and we have taken this advice onboardâ€™.
â€˜What was particularly pleasing for us, however, was recognition by the Environment Court of the efforts we have made â€“ and continue to make â€“ with the range of community programmes we have implemented such as the Amenity Effect Programme, the Property and Community Improvement Programme and the Community Forum and associated Independent Review Panel. We feel this judgement validates the considerable time, effort and funding we have put into these initiatives before any approvals have been received or any work commencedâ€™.
Mr Grindlay said that although the Environment Court had recommended that the variation to the Mining Licence be approved, this did not mean that work could start. â€˜There is a period of a month to allow for an appeal on points of law, and then Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley would need to sign the variation before we are able to start work. In reality, this could be well into the new yearâ€™.