Evolution Mining are in action at Puhipuhi
Media Release 2 October 2015
“Evolution Mining are in action at Puhipuhi. It’s time for community action!”
MineWatch Northland are encouraging all parties to exercise caution in relation to Evolution Mining Ltd at Puhipuhi. The new sign on SH 1 at Whakapara conveys MineWatch and other groups’ message – ‘Evolution Mining Go Away!’
“If tangata whenua and communities begin engaging with this mining company, there can only be one party that gains from that, and that’s Evolution. The company will claim community credibility and tangata whenua support, manipulating flax roots groups for their own advantage,” said MineWatch Northland spokesperson Tim Howard.
“Evolution Mining is making the best of this space to set up their operation before the public spotlight is put on them. It is time again for the strong opposition previously seen from Northland hapū and surroundings communities,” he said.
“Opposition against toxic mining proposals in Northland had good reasons because we don’t want long term environmental damage from both exploratory drilling and actual mining. There is every chance that mercury and toxic metals will leach into the many aquifers under Puhipuhi and into the waterways leading to the Kaipara and Helena Bay. Massive dams full of millions of tonnes of toxic waste are precisely what this type of mining leads to.
“Locals will get hardly any economic benefit, which companies will promise and not deliver. The benefits will leave overseas with ‘fly-in fly-out’ workers and foreign investors. This is why we must again stand up and prevent a kind of future that is both appalling and unnecessary,” MineWatch spokesperson Tim Howard said.
Evolution Mining, Australia’s second largest listed goldminer, has held the exploration permits for Puhipuhi since June this year. The corporation has moved into action quickly. Evolution is carrying out a low key but (in their own words) ‘aggressive’ plan for exploration for gold at Puhipuhi. They have been making contact with local Ngāpuhi hapū, and assisted by Wayne Brown, former Far North mayor and mining representative of Northland Inc, a subsidiary of Northland Regional Council, now mining director, to get their operation underway.
“You could say that Wayne Brown wasn’t re-elected as the Far North mayor in the last elections because of his hijinks using public money to promote Northland to mining companies around the world. He has his own financial interest in Northland mining and, although disappointing, it isn’t surprising he is helping Evolution Mining behind the scenes,” said Tim Howard.
MineWatch Northland sees Evolution’s secretive activities as part of standard mining company tactics to get what they want. The group has made contact with Belinda O’Dwyer in Australia to learn more about tactics used by mining companies in Evolution’s home territory.
Hastings born Belinda is an activist, lawyer and mother of two who has worked alongside Aboriginal custodians in different tribal areas using legal means to fight against mining companies in Australia for over 20 years. Her respectful advice is to beware of the companies’ tactics, and for hapū and communities to stay united in opposition to mining.
“If you engage with mining companies at all you are buying in to the process towards mining and you are already taking the steps they need to tick off their consultation process. Mining companies are not there to make friends. We’ve seen them do whatever they can, and promise whatever they can in order to get access to minerals”, says Belinda O’Dwyer.
Companies have a range of strategies including tactics that hapū and communities need to be aware of before any engagement, she says. These include:
• scoping to find out what issues will divide indigenous and community positions
• ‘cultivating strategic relationships’ with indigenous people who will support their mining intentions
• often involving someone with a public figure with a prominent profile
• paying an indigenous person for ‘cultural assessments’ or to be advisors, while their advice is never taken
• portraying indigenous people and community members in the media who support the company’s mining plans as the ‘good’ and ‘right’ people and those opposed as ‘bad’, ‘wrong’ or ‘deluded’ (rather than principled)
• serious legal threats to indigenous and community groups that oppose mining with the intention to scare off all opponents
• corporate funding for a project the local area desperately needs that should be the responsibility of Government or local councils, for example, eg health centres, grants for education, environmental clean ups and replanting.
“The outcome of mining is that some local individuals may benefit, but not the whole community,” she says. “Locals always get the crumbs and the long term problems after the company has gone. It’s always important to remember that”.
MineWatch Northland is taking this advice seriously, as this large Australian mining company is already showing signs of using such tactics.
“It is time for us to be taking united positions, and not let ourselves be manipulated,” said Tim Howard.