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Think Carefully On Macraes Mine

Fitzsimons Asks Government To Think Carefully On Macraes Mine

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today called on the Government to think carefully before approving Macraes' access application for its proposed Reefton gold mine.

The mine will require a 36 hectare tailings dam for the toxic mine waste - a wet, finely ground sludge that can devastate rivers and ecosystems if it is ever released or spilled.

"We know to our cost in the Coromandel how a slipping tailings dam can cast a shadow over a community for many years," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"The Golden Cross mine at Waitekauri built its tailings dam on unstable land (certified to be safe by an overseas geologist giving evidence to the planning hearing) and sure enough it slipped. Despite the $20 million spent on trying to stabilise the site, we cannot be sure the slipping has stopped.

"Meanwhile the mine has closed, the company has left town and the community downhill is left wondering when it will have to fund a major rescue operation," she said.

"That mine was on Conservation land too, with a high rainfall much like the West Coast. In addition, however, the Reefton area is seismically active."

The Waitekauri experience prompted the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to undertake a study of tailings dams internationally. He was unable to find a single example of a dam which has been in place for twenty years and had not slipped.

The huge energy demand of the mine is also a major excuse for a new hydro scheme involving the flooding of the Card Creek ecological area and the channelling of the Arnold river, said Ms Fitzsimons.

"This is not the sort of activity that was envisaged when conservation land was set aside," she said. "The Green Party ask the Government to think very seriously about the potential environmental impacts of granting this particular application."

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP: 04 470 6661, 07 868 6641, 025 586 068 Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 021 440 090


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