Resource consents have been granted to construct and operate the Favona underground gold and silver mine in Waihi.
Commissioners appointed by the Hauraki District Council and Environment Waikato have granted consents to Welcome Gold Mines and Auag Resources Ltd, subsidiary companies of Newmont Australia. The applications attracted 256 submissions to Hauraki District Council, 232 in support, 23 opposed and one neutral. Environment Waikato received 242 submissions, 221 in support, 17 opposed and four neutral.
The mining company has identified an ore reserve under rural land south east of Waihi and expects to take between nine and 12 years to mine the ore, although production is not expected to commence for about two years.
In evidence to the hearing, Newmont Waihi Operations General Manager Dave Ingle said the project’s environmental effects would be no more than minor, while the ongoing presence of the company in Waihi as a result of the Project would provide continued, significant economic and employment benefits for the community.
He said the Favona project would not affect the timing of the closure and rehabilitation of the Martha pit or the waste rock embankments, although it would delay the capping and final rehabilitation of the tailings ponds.
Submitters opposed to the mine raised issues from their experiences with the existing Martha mine operation and the potential that the proposed Favona mine might have similar effects. They had concerns about potential noise, vibration and dust and about appropriate monitoring and management plans.
Making their decision, the Commissioners said the applications related to construction and operation of a relatively small proposed underground mine, and not the existing Martha mine. Where there may be cumulative effects, these had been taken into account as part of our consideration and lessons learned as part of the Martha project had been considered when determining conditions of consent for the Favona project, they said.
As a condition of the consents, the Commissioners required a liaison officer be appointed to provide effective communication between the community and the company to deal effectively with complaints.
The Commissioners acknowledged Ngati Tamatera’s concerns about the effects that mining operations could have on the relationship iwi had with the Ohinemuri River, Pukewa (Martha Hill) and the surrounding area. It also raised concerns about the effects of past mining activities and those associated with the mining of Martha Hill. However, the Commissioners said the evidence presented showed the proposed underground Favona project would not result in adverse physical effects on the river.