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Toxic Mining and Deep Sea Oil Exploration Off Northland

Toxic Mining and Deep Sea Oil Exploration Off Northland: ‘Don’t Even Think About It!’

Whangarei, Friday 3 May: Today te Wakameninga o nga hapu Ngāpuhi and Forest and Bird say the Government are offering the worst options for Northland’s future with a large dollop of spin. Representatives reacting to the opening of tenders for deep sea oil off Northland’s west coast are warning mineral exploration companies and deep sea oil interests “Don’t even think about it!”

“The Government are pushing all the worst options for Northland’s future with their obsession of toxic mining and deep sea oil drilling” says Bryce Smith for te Wakameninga o nga hapu Ngāpuhi. “If they get their way, in a few years we’ll have dams with millions of tonnes of toxic waste upstream from productive coastal areas and farms and the potential of oil on our beaches.”

“Manipulative attempts by Steven Joyce aimed to force this on Northland is appalling (1). The Tasman Sea is turbulent. There are a history of shipwrecks and drownings all along the west coast of the country. It is no place for deep sea oil rigs. We have our own ideas about the future of the north and it doesn’t come from that strange space between Steven Joyce’s ears,” says Mr Smith.

“Any Northland deep sea oil drilling would be serviced out of Taranaki, which also makes their local job figures very suspect”, says Mr Smith. “Mike Sabin is unrealistically talking up jobs and income too. He acts as if the huge risks are not there with corporations that have dangerous track records like Anadarko from Texas (2),” says Mr Smith.

“This Government have low standards and ethics. They let international oil and mining interests write laws so weak you could drive an oil tanker through them. That’s why it’s we must draw the line even though they recently passed a law to take away people’s right to protest at sea,” says Mr Smith.

The northern branches of Forest and Bird have been opposing toxic mining plans across Northland after the area was surveyed in 2011 without consent of landowners then marketed to mining companies across the globe.

The Government announced this week that the toxic waste dam at the old Tui Mine site near Coromandel has finally been stabilised. Taxpayers have had to pay $22.5 million to clean it up (3).

“The toxic waste from gold mining that includes mercury, cadmium and arsenic at the old Tui Mine site has been stabilised for now, but the toxic waste will continue to be a threat forever. Why create it in the first place? Nearby the Te Aroha mine had five years of mining, leached for 40 years and cost us $40 million to clean up as well,” says Dean Baigent-Mercer, Chairperson of the Far North branch of Forest and Bird. “Let’s not repeat these mistakes in Northland”.

This week Whangarei MP Phil Heatley has said exploration company De Grey Mining would be held to account over monitoring water during gold and silver exploration over Puhipuhi (4).

“Phil Heatley has missed the important points,” says Mr Baigent-Mercer. “One is that if mercury and other heavy metals turn up in sampling, the damage is already done and it’s really difficult to contain the contamination and if you do, where do you put it? Also the Northland Regional Council have a shocking record for monitoring any consents and are worst in the country for enforcing dairy farming breaches (5). In this case the NRC aren’t even sure if De Grey Mining need a consent to drill through rock and aquifers where contaminants could mix with the water that come out around the mountain as springs.”

(1) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10880660
(2) http://werewolf.co.nz/2013/05/risky-business/
(3) http://beehive.govt.nz/release/225-million-tui-mine-clean-complete
(4) ‘Mining Opponents on High Alert in North’ http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/20130501
(5) http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/publications/media-release/northland%E2%80%99s-dairy-farmers-fail-discharge-targets


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