Despite Gerry Brownlee’s absurd aspiration to be Australia and to mine our treasured places the economic arguments do not stack in the one Coromandel gold mining town, Waihï.
The evidence for this can be found in the Social Impact report on Waihï released this week by Queensland University. The study looks at many aspects of Newmont Gold Waihï’s effect on the community and the possible effects of mine closure as well. However mine closure is looking less likely at the current global gold price of around $1700 per ounce.
So what’s the economic problem? According to the study Waihï has high unemployment and low wages compared to other towns in the region.
Waihi has moved from second highest to the highest ranking for deprivation on the New Zealand social deprivation index. There are serious violence, alcohol and drugs problems. Property values are variable but some houses have no value such as the house that fell in a mining related hole a few years. There is a lack of youth and tertiary education opportunities in Waihï with no post secondary school learning institutions. Add to this the noise the dust and vibration plus the uncertainty about the future.
Newmont Gold Waihi gives quite a bit to charity but their large profits are not paving the streets with gold.
Martha Hill is now Martha hole and not a dollar has been paid to our Government in royalties for that pit. They have generously set up a fund to monitor the vast toxic waste dump from the mines and the “lake’ inside the pit once they have departed. This will provide some economic activity, especially if there are any dam collapses etc which always assist GDP. But for women, youth, elderly and unskilled people there are few glitters from the gold.
The report also states that tangata whenua have found the industry divisive and destructive in terms of the destruction of the sacred hill Pükewa (Martha). .
The report makes interesting reading considering the fact that large scale open cast and underground mining has been occurring in the centre of town since the mid 1980’s. You would expect a shiny town with a golden glow but alas not. Wake up Gerry and smell the cyanide use in this industry and count the profits as they go offshore. Gold mining is not a source of wealth and well being in NZ.