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Independent Research Lacking At Waihi, MP Says

28 August 2002

Independent Research Lacking At Waihi, MP Says

Independent research is needed into the effects of present day mining at Waihi, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

Responding to a report released yesterday by Hauraki District Council about ground collapses, Ms Fitzsimons said she shared the concern of many residents about the number of unanswered questions in the report.

Of most concern was that the report did not fully investigate possible connections between present-day mining operations by Waihi Gold and land movement in the town on the mine's boundaries.

Waihi Gold, owned by Newmont - one of the world's largest multinational gold mining companies - was part of the council committee (the Underground Technical Working Party or UTWP) which commissioned the report. The committee received a draft copy of the report some weeks ago.

"The committee doesn't seem to have done any more work on current mining activities but instead has reassessed information already available - much of it from the mining company itself. This fails to give the community the independent investigation or the answers that were promised," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"On December 14, 2001 I called for an independent public enquiry into recent slumps in Waihi. When the terms of reference of the council's working party were expanded to include 'assess the implications of present day mining activity for risk', I agreed we should reserve a decision on the need for an independent enquiry until this work was completed."

Ms Fitzsimons said she planned to discuss the report with the Government this week, and seek ways to augment the report with an independent study of possible links between the large open cast mine in the town and land movement.

"I'm pleased the report has identified areas of high and medium hazard around the south and east sides of the mine, as there's now a good chance residents will be shifted before lives are endangered by further 'surprise' slumps.

"However I'm not convinced all slumping problems are caused by historic events."

Ms Fitzsimons said questions residents were wanting answers to included:

1. Why blasting and dewatering by present day mining were discounted as factors by the report, despite an apparent lack of any new and independent investigation into the impacts of these activities? The report and district council publicity surrounding it appeared to go to some lengths to exonerate present-day mining.

2. Why the initial draft of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences report has not been made public? In early June 2002 the chairman of the UTWP, Andrew Chaplin, who is the council's environmental manager, said the committee was challenging aspects of that draft.

3. What is going to be done about the continuing land movement around the east wall of the present mine - ie above the Milking Cow subsidence - including wall collapses inside the mine plus cracks and alleged ground settlement outside? This is one of the most disturbing events right now for residents. Many of the mine's eastern neighbours feel very threatened by this land movement.

4. What compensation residents are likely to get? Those in areas designated high and medium risk zones are being asked to leave, and there is talk of possible compensation, but no details. And what about their neighbours, just outside this zone?

5. What recompense is there, if any, for residents who have grievances about present day mining operations - for example in respect to cracks they say are appearing in their properties, noise, vibration and dust - but who are outside the 'zoned' areas?

Ms Fitzsimons said she would do all she could to try to get government help for residents affected by dangerous ground at Waihi.

"I am also going to continue to seek answers, which many residents are crying out for, about connections between the present-day mine and land movement and slumps on the mine's boundaries," she said.

Ends


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