Martha's Million Provides Glittering Milestone
Waihi has a glow about it this week following the pouring of the millionth ounce of gold from the town's Martha Mine since the rebirth of mining at the site in July 1987.
"This achievement reflects well on the whole town and district, including not only the company's workforce but the local businesses and suppliers" said Waihi Gold Mining Company general manager Mike Slight. "It underlines the huge beneficial effect for an area when gold mining can be sustained in partnership with environmental and social values."
Mr Slight said an appropriate celebration had been held for the mine's community.
In the same period that the million ounces of gold has been produced, a further 6.3 million ounces of silver has been extracted. Internationally, both gold and silver are measured in ounces and valued in US dollars, and the total of 7.3 million ounces of the two precious metals combined at today's prices is worth approximately $760 million (New Zealand dollars).
Gold was first discovered at Waihi in 1878 and the original Martha Hill Mine operated between 1879 and 1952. The ore was extracted by underground mining methods following the major vein systems.
Renewed interest in gold mining in the 1970s led to exploration and the granting of consents for the new open pit Martha Mine, which began operations in July 1987 with the first gold was poured in May 1988. An extension to the mine, incorporating a range of environmental measures, was later approved and the expanded operation has been under way since the middle of this year.
Today the project employs around 235 people, and for each person directly employed, 3.4 more are indirectly employed in occupations servicing the mining industry.
The gold and silver produced makes up nearly half of Waihi's estimated GDP. Capital invested in the project totals $180 million. In addition, wages paid to employees and sub-contractors, plus goods and services purchased locally, put around $30 million a year into the local economy. The company has also made significant donations to community projects.
When the mine is closed the open pit area will be transformed into a recreational lake and tailings storage facilities will be rehabilitated to become a combination of wetlands, grassed areas and ponds.
Contact: Mike Slight (07) 863 8192