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GRD Globe Progress Mine Proposal Too Destructive

Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ Inc

Media Release - Saturday 18 August 2001- Wellington

Globe Hill Mine Proposal Destructive: Consent Refusal Applauded

"Conservation Minister Sandra Lee has done the right thing in declining the Globe Hill mine application over 550ha for a huge high impact gold mine in Victoria Conservation Park, and is to be applauded says the Environment and Conservation Organisations, ECO, today.

ECO spokesperson, Cath Wallace, said Sandra Lee is to be congratulated for protecting our environment against another assault by those who want short term benefits for long term pollution.

"GRD mining pressed ahead with this application despite ECO and others making it clear back in the 1980s that our judgement was that modern hard rock mineral mining and conservation values are totally incompatible and that this particular project would be far too environmentally costly to be allowed. They have knowingly backed a stupid idea and poured money into a project that should never have been contemplated.

"This mine would have been enormous and hugely damaging. In the mere 15 years of planned project life, it would have created 120 million tonnes of waste rock , millions of tonnes of tailings with contaminants including copper, lead, zinc and arsenic contamination.

"The mine would have involved two huge tailings dams. One in Upper Devils Creek would be 35.5ha and 8.5 million tonnes and would be a staggering 100m tall. The other, in Fossickers Creek would drown 39ha and contain 4.7 million tonnes with a height of over 40m.

"The highest of the two waste rock dumps would be even higher at 200m (the height of the viewing platform of Skytower in the Auckland) and would cover 46ha and another of 56 ha in yet another stream, Union Creek South.

One of the two huge tailings and waste rock dams was to be sited at the top of the catchment of the Devils Creek which has "exceptionally high aquatic invertebrate diversity" with the Devils Creek second highest in biological richness of the South Island streams and rivers, according to an official assessment report of February this year by R Buckingham.

The mine of course also has a huge open pit of 46 ha, a long and high-impact access road, sludge pits and a range of other ancillary installations with considerable impacts.

Over 60% of the rimu and red beech forest that would be destroyed is largely unmodified, with complete destruction of over 260ha and further 542 ha adversely effected. Kaka, kakariki, and possibly short tailed bats would have been especially badly impacted by the destruction of their habitat, with robins, weka and kereru (wood pigeon) and many other species also badly affected, according to ecological assessments.

"These assessments record 'a large scale loss of protected species because of the loss of .. habitat.. and the loss of critical components of this habitat.' (p 12 of GRD Macraes: Assessments of Effects on fauna and habitats). Further impacts were predicted from human activity, arsenic and other pollutants, lights, dust and machinery.

"It is ridiculous of the company to have pressed for mining in a place of such high conservation value and absurd to even think of approving such a mine. The Minister of Conservation, Sandra Lee could not have approved this mine and still been consistent with the conservation management objectives for this conservation land.

"The purposes of the management of the land should be considered in any decision under the Crown Minerals Act 1991. That the previous Minister and the regional council wanted to approve a version half the size of this proposal was a disgrace.

"Sandra Lee has withstood a huge amount of pressure from the developers and West Coasters on this as well as some of her own colleagues. She has done the right thing and we applaud her. The future of the West Coast is to make the most of the natural environmental capital not to mine and destroy it. She has a lot more vision than her critics on this.

ENDS

For more information contact Cath Wallace, 04 389- 1696(h) or 463-5713 (w)

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