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After ten months of preparation Newmont Waihi Gold (NGW) has lodged its resource consent application for the company’s proposed underground project in Waihi East. Hauraki District Council (HDC) received the application on Monday, 18 June 2012. HDC now has ten days to decide whether or not it gets past first base.
“The team is currently going through the application to decide if there are any major matters that have not been addressed within it. Until then we can’t release any details to the public,” says HDC Strategic Planning Projects Manager, Mark Buttimore.
If there is any key information that is not contained in the application it will be sent back to NWG. However, if all the key information has been included in the application then it will be accepted and full details will be posted on the HDC website.
From there the application travels on to the “further information phase” of the consent process. This stage of the process involves checking the technical aspects of the application to see if any further information is needed for it to meet the requirements of the Resource Management Act (RMA) and the HDC District Plan.
“Council has to do this within a statutory deadline, but the company can supply the requested information as and when it is able,” explains Mr Buttimore.
NWG is the owner and operator of Waihi’s open pit Martha Mine and two underground mines, Favona (located to the east of Waihi) and Trio (beneath Union Hill).
In August 2011, the company announced its intention to mine an ore body beneath a residential area of Waihi East. The ore body is named ‘Correnso’. Since then, the company has worked through a public consultation phase, and released a Property and Community Improvement Policy (PCIP). The Policy is intended to address issues outside of the RMA such as property devaluation and it will apply in the proposed Golden Link Project Area.
The resource consent application seeks permission for underground mining within a defined project area, termed the Golden Link Project Area (GLPA), not just for the Correnso ore body. This is because the company is wishing to explore that area for further mineralisation within the GLPA. If approved this consent would apply for the project life of up to 20 years.
“Basically the company is looking for consent to mine Correnso, plus put in exploratory drives and mine any appropriate resource anywhere within the whole of the GLPA,” says Mr Buttimore.
However, underground mining will only be able to proceed in this extended area if NWG demonstrates to the satisfaction of the HDC that the consent conditions, including key conditions relating to vibration, noise, settlement, ground surface stability and minimum depth to workings, are met.
The project will primarily rely on the use of existing consented facilities and infrastructure including the Favona portal, access drives and shafts associated with the Favona and Trio underground mines and the waste disposal area of the GLPA. It is important to note the application does not provide for underground mining in this part (the waste disposal area) of the GLPA.
Hauraki District Mayor, John Tregidga, encourages all those with an interest in the project to take the time to familiarise themselves with the application when it is available.
“I’d like to assure the Waihi community that we are engaging top independent technical and planning experts in the processing of this application,” he says, “It’s not just HDC who will be processing this consent application. And at the time of the hearing we will be appointing professional independent commissioners.”
He also points out that as with all RMA applications processing, costs will be met by the applicant.