New Underground Exploration And Mining Programme
For Immediate Release
23 August 2011
New Underground Exploration And Mining Programme Could Extend Mining Operations To 2020
Newmont Waihi Gold has today announced a new programme of underground exploration and possible mining in Waihi that may extend gold and silver mining operations to 2020 and beyond.
The programme, named Golden Link, comprises two parts:
1. Martha Exploration Project, a small underground exploration programme located entirely within the existing Martha mining licence area and the pit rim. This will require a variation to the existing Martha mining licence; and
2. Correnso, a potential underground mine in Waihi East which, if it proceeds, would replace the existing underground Favona and Trio mines. This will require consents under the Resource Management Act to go ahead.
Newmont Waihi Gold General Manager Glen Grindlay said ongoing exploration activities had indicated promising deposits of gold and silver.
The programme was important to the local community and wider New Zealand.
"Gold mining is a significant contributor to the local and national economies through money that goes back into the community and through taxes, employment and training," Mr Grindlay said.
"This programme would ensure the continuation of employment for those 700 people employed directly or indirectly by the current exploration and mining operations, as well as the sustainability of the local economy, including businesses, schools and social services."
Mr Grindlay said the company's community investment programme would also continue for the life of the programme.
Mr Grindlay said the Golden Link programme may be daunting for some residents but modern underground mining techniques meant there would be little environmental effect.
"Newmont Waihi Gold has an excellent environmental track record and our performance is closely monitored by independent agencies. We have successfully operated an underground mine near residential areas in Waihi for seven years and have in place a number of programmes to minimise and mitigate any adverse effects."
The Martha Exploration Project involves the construction of an underground exploration decline (tunnel) within the north wall of the pit. There will be two portals (entrances). The project is expected to operate until the end of 2014 and will determine the feasibility of an underground mine at Martha.
Should the Correnso proposal proceed, underground mining would occur at considerable depth below some properties in Waihi East. The mining would occur in blocks starting at the bottom of the ore body, which is 350 metres below the surface, and working up to the top of the ore body, at approximately 130 metres below the surface.
As a comparison, the Auckland Harbour Bridge is just over 64 metres tall, so the closest any workings would be to the surface is approximately the height of two Auckland Harbour Bridges stacked on top of each other.
This type of modern mining involves mining from the bottom up and mined-out areas (stopes) are filled before the next level is accessed. Filling provides lasting stability and means no large holes are left behind. There is no potential for ground surface instability.
Mr Grindlay said the people and organisations potentially affected by the Golden Link Programme are in Waihi East and close to the northern perimeter of the Martha open pit.
"During the coming weeks we will be going out to talk to the people of Waihi East and close to the northern perimeter of the Martha open pit about the proposals. We want to make sure they have the information they need and we want to listen to their views. We are also opening a Golden Link Information Office in Waihi's main street, which will be staffed daily and Saturday mornings."
The company would be discussing some of the ways it could support the community during any mining activity with a focus on giving people choices and maintaining and increasing property values in the area.
Newmont Waihi Gold would also continue to offer its Amenity Effect Programme (AEP) payments to support people in the areas closest to the operations. The AEP was voluntarily set up by Newmont Waihi Gold in recognition that, although the company operates within strict consent limits, some residents close to the mines may, from time to time, still experience some effects from the operations. Last year qualifying residents received payments ranging from $250 to $3000 for a six-month period.
Following a period of consultation and further investigation, Newmont Waihi Gold expects to lodge Resource Management Act applications for the Correnso mine with the Hauraki District Council and Waikato Regional Council in early 2012. The
applications will seek to address feedback from the community gained during our consultation period. If approved, construction of the Correnso Mine is expected to start in mid 2013.