The comments made by a mining industry representative on RNZ last week promoting Oceana Gold‘s proposal to mine conservation land at Wharekirauponga were inaccurate and disrespectful of local efforts to control pests.
Patrick Phelps, a representative of the West Coast Minerals Forum speaking for Oceana, said mining should be allowed to occur in this nationally significant forest and profits could be donated for pest control which he claimed was not working.
He said the area at Wharekirauponga had been left alone and required expensive management which is inaccurate. Both DOC and local groups have been working hard to control pests in the area for a number of years. The greatest risk to the forest is gold mining under the habitat of the Archeys frog, polluting the water table and creating more toxic waste full of heavy metals.
Watchdog asked the Department of Conservation if Oceana are proposing to pay for pest control in the area. We have been told that DOC has not accepted any such proposals.”
On the “Nights” show on Radio New Zealand Mr Phelps also asserted that our area was crying out for jobs. Hauraki, under which this mine area would primarily fall, had an unemployment rate of 4% at the last census, Thames Coromandel, the district where many of the impacts (particularly around freshwater as this area is headwater catchment for Whangamata area) would be felt, is just 2.1%.
Mr Phelps said the approximate value of the gold that will be removed is approximately $400million which is great for Oceana but not for this country. In 2019 the export of gold from Aotearoa New Zealand was around $570million, but royalties taken by the Government were a mere $6.8million.
Instead of trying to get access to conservation lands via offering to pay for pest control, the mining industry should start mining e waste for gold and leave our mountains in peace for future generations.