Greens team up with National in Tui Mine clean up

Green MP Catherine Delahunty with Environment Minister Nick Smith at the MOU signing in the Beehive this morning.

In another success story for MMP, Green MP Catherine Delahunty today announced a joint initiative with the National Party to clean up New Zealand’s most toxic site — Te Aroha’s Tui Mine.

The abandoned, environment-polluting mine has long been known as an issue, and decades later something is finally being done about it.

Environment Waikato wrote the following background notes:

Tui Mine’s story started in 1967. Norpac Mining Ltd opened it to extract metals, including copper, lead and zinc. The mine prospered and the company also found several thousand ounces of gold and silver among the ore. Then unacceptable levels of mercury were found in the ore and the mine became uneconomic. In 1975, Norpac went into liquidation and Tui Mine was abandoned.

Mining equipment was removed for use at other sites or sold for scrap. Left behind was a large pile of ore and sand-sized crushed ore (tailings), which was dammed to prevent it slipping down the mountainside. The mine was deemed an orphan site because no organisation could be held accountable for fixing the mess.

Over the years, the tailings dam fell into disrepair and became unstable. In 1980 the Hauraki Catchment Board built a gravel embankment to stop the tailings slipping onto property further down the mountain.

Little progress had been made over 30 years to deal with the issues at Tui Mine but that all changed in the 2007 Budget, when money from the Ministry for the Environment’s Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund was earmarked to start the clean up of Tui Mine.

Since then the project partners have invested time, money and effort in planning to ensure the best long-term environmental outcomes and reduced ongoing maintenance costs for the remediation project.

According to the Waikato Regional Council, the three main issues arising from mining at the site are:

  1. The Tunakohoia stream, which flows through the Te Aroha township, has heavy metals leaching from the adits and from the tailings dam.  These heavy metals include lead and cadmium.
  2. The Tui catchment is adjacent to, but separate from, the Tunakohoia catchment.  The Tui catchment is also affected by heavy metals arising from the tailings dam.
  3. There is an abandoned mine tailing impoundment in the Tui catchment. Technical reports have found that this structure is at risk of collapse in a moderate seismic event or an extreme weather event.  Such events could result in over 90,000 m3 of mine waste liquefying and flowing down the Tui stream past the edge of Te Aroha.

What do you think?

9 Comments Posted

  1. I applaud this constrcutive action by The Greens, which is sticking to their knitting, and working cooperatively with the major governmental partner to fulfill what The Greens were elected to do.

    Should The Greens keep this sort of thing up, I’d expect they’ll pick up more support in 2011 and 2014.

    However, my (and many other ex-Green voters like myself) perception of The Greens as being a Watermelon party (namely Green on the outside and Red on the inside) still persists, and will continue to do so for as long as the environmental wing is beholden to the statist/compulsion/bullying wing of The (lefty) Greens

  2. The scenario you’ve outlined Shunda is not limited to your particular area of the country. There’s plenty of similar stories from throughout New Zealand. The main problem in my opinion is a lack of proper regulation and enforcement by complacent or corrupt councils. I do wish it was isolated as you believe, however even Nick Smith conservatively puts areas that are badly polluted at 20,000.

  3. Nick Smith reminds me of a Pentecostal preacher I once knew, he was not a nice fellow!!
    It is a shame that Nick is going to clean this site up and then look the other way at all the new mining that is about to start (or is under way).

    No one cares about what happens down here on the West Coast, for example, a Regional councillor (also chairman of the resource management committee) was recently found seriously in breach of water quality consents for his massive mining operation near the Ross township.
    Not only did the council try and hide it, it took an OIA enquiry from the local paper to find out (I assume from a tip off).
    In any other region this guy would be forced to resign, but here?, nothing, it is just a joke.

  4. Is this another case of successful outcomes that can be achieved by “working with” (like the home insulation scheme) rather than “working against” which often acheives nothing.

    It sounds like a pat on the back is needed for Catherine Delahunty, Nick Smith, and everyone else involved.

  5. It’s great to see a start being made to clean up this polluted site. Unfortunately it is not an isolated case and there are many more areas throughout New Zealand that will require a large investment to rectify historic pollution. I commend the Greens for making this happen and National for realising that it must be cleaned up to protect the health and well-being of Kiwis and the environment. Good stuff.

  6. “…# reid (7,372) Says:
    May 24th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    For the Greens to gain any real influence they have to at least give the pretense that a deal with National is possible

    Yeah but they deal at arms length always cause their members don’t understand why its necessary.

    This says a lot about its members, doesn’t it.

    It also says a lot about what the Greens tell their members…”



  7. (the logic of the farrar:…)

    “…So if left wing voters decide a National Government re-election is inevitable, then more left wing voters may defect to Greens as their best way to influence the Giovernment…”

    (well..he obviously has coalition stars in his eyes…eh..?

    ..and i have been telling him for quite some time that one-term-john it will be..! he is a natty-insider…you’d have to wonder where he gets his (heroic)national party/green ‘influence’ assumptions

    does he know something about the relationship between the greens and key/national that the rest of us don’t know about…?..


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