Underground Mining – Yeah Right

Yesterday I went up on a beautiful mountain, Te Aroha, which forms the stern of the Hauraki waka. High on this mountain is a ‘small’ abandoned  mine site which is in fact a series of visible scars overhanging the small town of Te Aroha on the plain below.

High on the mountain the unstable tailings dam sits at the base of a series of degraded areas which were abandoned in 1973 by Norpac Mining.

Higher up the track piles of waste rock fill a whole gully and there is physical damage to the stream coming down the steep mountainside.

Old mine equipment and old underground shafts are scattered around the valley. The invisible pollution from the shafts, waste rock and tailings dam (acid rock drainage) has destroyed the life of two streams and continues to pollute the waterways downstream.

This couldn’t happen in the 21st century I hear the miners cry. However mining the Coromandel hills will always involve huge problems. The mountains are very steep, the rocks are very fractured. Debris flows occur on sites like behind Thames township and on Mt Te Aroha. High intensity rainfall with flash flooding and erosion is the norm, not some exceptional freak event.

To mine these areas you have to build roads and truck vast quantities of rock out for processing, thus industrialising the forest and walking tracks, or you have to do what they did at Tui and dump your processed waste on site.

You have work out how to seal acid mine drainage in fractured rocks with water flowing through the area and that means more than sealing mine shafts and may not even be possible.

The Assessment of Environmental Effects on the proposed clean up of the Tui Mine site concedes “it is not realistic to expect any remedial works to completely remediate the site in the short term. Complete remediation of the site may not be possible even in the long term”.

In the meantime “Glass Earth Mining” are prospecting in the forests adjacent to another beautiful area near Whangamata, the Parakiwai Reserve. They are claiming that the another Martha Hill open cast gold mine could be worth developing in this area.

We are also expecting the Government to announce the results of the Schedule 4 land removals consultation very soon. Coromandel people are in no doubt that whatever the political game the conservation estate is being eyed up for rape and pillage. We live with the risks and costs of previous mining. We do not benefit from it.

We know there is huge support to protect our area from any major mining developments. We  know  the price of gold in particular is dazzling the mining companies who are keen to expand into the lands north of the Schedule 4 boundary at Kopu/ Hikuai.

What we don’t know is how far this Government wants to push us. Our communities have spoken clearly. We don’t want another Martha Hill,  we don’t want anymore Tui Mine contamination and we don’t believe in the “surgical underground mining rhetoric”. As for coal mining in the Paparoa National Park? How unpopular does this Government want to be?

8 thoughts on “Underground Mining – Yeah Right

  1. The least ecologically damaging place to mine is an interesting question but always leads me to the next question – ” What mineral are they wanting to extract?” Mining does damage the earth so the trade off would need to be in exchange for something very useful to future generations. Gold and coal don’t pass that test! I was shocked to see the state of the tailings dam at Tui and the piles of waste rock and that was just the visible pollution. Nothing much was growing on the tracks around the dam made from compacted tailings and locals say it makes a great metal – so long as you don’t mind the die off of all vegetation.
    Seeing is believing, so aly who can should walk up Mt Te Aroha and check this nightmare out!

  2. Well I don’t think there is any place you could mine that wouldn’t be effected but you have to put things right after you have left because thats a bit of a disgrace, yet another example of humans raping mother nature then not helping her recover. Shocking.

  3. Our children and future generations will pay the real price for today’s greed just like we are having to spend millions to sort out the messes created by past generations. You would think the lessons would be learned…..

  4. They ignore it because nobody can sue them for it perhaps.

    …or because nobody has documented the actual problems with the soil, the tailings and the area.

    A hyperspectral imaging flyover would likely give a good assessment of what is leaching into the environment and where.

    Disclaimer: I used to work on AVIRIS. I know the people and their work.

    BJ

  5. “What we don’t know is how far this Government wants to push us. Our communities have spoken clearly. We don’t want another Martha Hill, we don’t want anymore Tui Mine contamination and we don’t believe in the “surgical underground mining rhetoric”. As for coal mining in the Paparoa National Park? How unpopular does this Government want to be?”
    —–
    and now to our social justice issues: more spending on health and education, more state houses, more migrants and refugees, more money for beneficiaries, higher pay for workers, shorter working hours!!!! knobble the police force (expand civil liberties), improve prison conditions and shorten sentences, return public land (crown) to tangatawhenua, (te tiritti, 1840 Maori language version), free Palestine, end all western military alliances!

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