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Coromandel Proves Mining Wealth Myth

28 August 2001
Coromandel proves mining wealth myth

Green Party Coromandel MP Jeanette Fitzsimons today said people who believed mining was good for local communities should take a look at the poverty, deprivation and high unemployment of the mining town Waihi on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Ms Fitzsimons said despite hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold being extracted from two large, open-cast gold mines and substantial funding of community projects by the mining companies, the people of Waihi still have the highest level of economic deprivation and unemployment in the Coromandel and Hauraki districts.

"Despite the serious environmental disruption and the extraction of a fortune in gold over the last decade or so Waihi has high unemployment and very poor socio-economic status," said Ms Fitzsimons.

A Victory University study from last year found that Waihi had the worst level of deprivation in the Coromandel and Hauraki districts with a rating of 10. Pauanui has a deprivation rating of three and Paeroa has nine. Out of a population of around 4368 Waihi has 837 registered job seekers.

"The Waihi experience has shown that mining offers very little to local communities, leaves an environmental mess to be managed forever, and in fact is seriously contrary to sustainable economic development.

"The people of the West Coast who are so angry today should bear the Waihi experience in mind," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons said when the application was lodged for the gold mine at Golden Cross near Waihi the application stated that there would be no jobs for women, school leavers, the unemployed or unskilled males.

"The Coromandel experience of mining has been that most jobs - particularly the skilled jobs - go to Australians or other overseas personnel moving into the area for the period of the mining. It's hard to see economic spin-offs from that, except for Australia where the company is owned.

"Mining lasts a decade or so. The environmental risks from tailings dams last forever," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"The West Coast is never going to prosper from gold mining. Even with the latest technology mining is a potentially polluting industry that is at odds with the natural beauty and conservation value that makes the Coast so special and unique.

"Moves to build on the region's good economic growth must capitalise on the natural values of the area rather than looking for short term fixes that, experience has shown, are not at all in the area's economic interests."

Jeanette will be speaking to Conservationists supporting the Minister's decision on the forecourt of Parliament at around 1.30pm. Rod Donald will be addressing the Coast rally between 3.30 - 4pm.

ENDS

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