Facts The Casualty In Macraes Decision
"A pathetic manipulation of the facts" is how Libertarianz spokesman Mark Tammett described Sandra Lee's justification for dumping the Reefton gold project. "As a civil engineer formerly employed by Macraes," says Tammett, "I know the very strict (and sometimes ridiculous) environmental requirements they were forced to adhere to. That the project should be dumped by Lee after Macraes were able to satisfy these requirements shows her disdain for the facts, and the environmentalist movement's utter disdain for reason."
"Consider the following," he says:
a.. "The area of the proposed Reefton mine is not natural, having been logged and mined extensively from 1870 through to 1951. Any alleged 'conservation value' exists mainly because of these historic workings - the forest having since regenerated around them, just as it would at the end of this proposed Macraes project.
b.. "There is no plan to use toxic chemicals to extract gold from the ore at Reefton. Despite emotive references to "toxic tailings dams," at Reefton, in fact the tailings concentrate will be shipped to the Macraes processing plant in East Otago where final extraction using chemicals will be done. The only chemicals at the Reefton site will be those very small quantities that may leach from the natural rock.
c.. "Even in Otago where cyanide is used to extract gold from the ore concentrate at Macraes' processing plant, contamination risk is remote. Practically all the cyanide used in the process is neutralised prior to leaving the processing plant. What little cyanide may remain is stored in the tailings dam, where contact with the atmosphere breaks it down within 48 hours. The risk is so low that I happily drank water from a water storage dam immediately below the tailings dam.
d.. "All mining companies are required to lodge very large bonds with the government prior to commencing mining. This more than covers any possible remedial or closure works that may be required should Macraes go bankrupt.
e.. "Gold mining in New Zealand - even in Reefton - is economically marginal, and even a small financial hurdle can kill a project. Otago and the West Coast are full of low grades of gold ore, but few can make gold mining economically viable. Concentrations of gold at Reefton will be as little as 0.9 grams of gold per tonne of ore, and extracting that ore takes a lot of work. After investing $35M in investigation and studies over about 10 years, and finally finding a way to make the venture work, GRD thoroughly deserve whatever profits they would have been able to make from the venture."
"Unfortunately for Macraes and many Coasters, Sandra Lee has now killed any opportunity for Macraes to recover their investment into this project. Her decision will be a warning to any future investor, and should also serve as a warning to all New Zealanders," concludes a disgusted Tammett. "It is clear the environmentalist ideology is not concerned with facts, or with the well being of people. Like religious zealots of the past, they'll always oppose anything that might bring wealth and prosperity to New Zealand."
It's enough to make you vote Libertarianz!