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Mining threat to Coromandel remains

Mining threat to Coromandel remains - Newmont drilling for gold in Conservation Park near Whangamata

"The government's mining review back-down in May would have many thinking that Coromandel conservation land is no longer threatened by mining. The alarming reality is that high-value southern Coromandel Conservation Park land is being actively drilled for gold by Newmont Waihi Gold," says Coromandel Watchdog spokesperson Denis Tegg.

Newmont has already drilled three exploration holes in native forest conservation land in the Parikiwai valley, (Wharekirauponga) just a few kilometers inland from Whangamata. Newmont plans more drilling.

"Newmont's drilling area is like a bomb site. Native forest species have been clear-felled leaving a boggy area littered with smashed vegetation," said Mr. Tegg.

"The drilling site is within a Conservation Department designated "special place", and was given this status because of its high conservation, biodiversity, recreational and landscapes values. The area is the habitat for many native species including endangered frogs, and native birds. It contains mature forest, and is in the headwaters of a river that flows into an estuary at Whangamata beach."

"The drilling area is only a few hundred meters south of the Otahu Ecological Reserve. The government retained the Otahu reserve in schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act in the recent mining review, keeping it protected from mining. 99% of the 33,000 submitters specifically wanted the Otahu Ecological Reserve protected from all mining, because of the reserve's outstanding biodiversity significance and conservation value. Newmont's exploration permit area and the Otahu Reserve have indistinguishable conservation values."

"Newmont has repeatedly said it is accountable to the New Zealand public and will not operate in high conservation value areas. But its drilling program shows the ugly reality of its activities and reveals that it's statements are nothing but 'greenwash' public relations rhetoric", said Mr. Tegg.

"If they continue drilling on Whangamata conservation land they can expect the same unrelenting opposition that kept gold mining companies out of the northern Coromandel for the last 30 years," said Mr. Tegg.


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