CAFCA - Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa

Foreign investment in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Overseas Investment Office - October 2021 Decision

Undermining Waihi

This is simply the latest step in the decades-long literal undermining of Waihi and the Coromandel by transnational mining companies. OceanaGold (New Zealand) Limited, United States of America (42%), United Kingdom (25%), Canada (11%), Australia (8%) and Various (14%) has been given permission by the Minister for Land Information and the Minister of Finance to buy land in Waihi. Both the seller and the amount paid have been withheld.

To quote the OIO: "The Applicant is a New Zealand-incorporated gold mining company, with operations in Otago, Reefton, and Waihi. The Applicant is part of OceanaGold Corporation (OGC), a multinational gold mining company with operations in the Philippines, New Zealand, and the United States of America... The Applicant sought consent to acquire land at Waihi (the Land). The Applicant intends on building a portal on the Land to the Wharekirauponga Tunnel (WKP Tunnel)".

"The Land will also hold surface infrastructures to facilitate the construction and maintenance of the WKP Tunnel. The Applicant intends to also construct a single tunnel with a portal on the Land to their existing Waihi processing plant, linking to the WKP Tunnel". This Decision also allows readers to give their Latin a workout. "The Crown will have the opportunity to acquire the usque ad medium filum aquae rights associated with a stream which adjoins the Land". It means rights which extend to the middle line of the water.

OceanaGold has a shocking record in Waihi and Coromandel in general (as did its' transnational predecessor, Newmont). Catherine Delahunty, Chairperson of Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki, wrote in Watchdog 157 (August 2021, "The Undermining Of Hauraki 2021"):

"In Hauraki, the gold company OceanaGold is continuing its long-term effort to scrape every last ounce of gold out of Waihi and then move on to the coastal areas and the conservation lands of the south east Hauraki (Coromandel Peninsula) area. It is aggressively pursuing new consents for further underground mining and a new pit in Waihi town. This involves widening the Martha Pit - which is actually the remnant of the sacred maunga Pukewa".

"The pit has a huge slip on the north face but there is gold within and below. Therefore, parts of the town of Waihi are being reclassified as a mineral zone and the historic Waihi Pump House and main street will be impacted from the extended Martha Pit. This means a return to dust, noise, vibration and blasting in the heart of this town which is yet to reap the rewards of nearly 40 years of extractive industry. It also has a massive toxic waste dump complex on the edge of town and this is also about to be expanded".

"Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki has tried to support some of the campaigns by Waihi residents to fight the worse impacts of mining, both because it's creating a huge toxic legacy and risk, and because we know that companies like OceanaGold plan to use Waihi as a base for expansion into the rest of the region. ... The arguments against extracting gold from the earth only grow stronger as climate chaos grows and food producing land and clean water are ever more precious. You might think the ban on open cast mining on the Coromandel Peninsula which we achieved in the 1990s had solved our local issues and that Waihi is just a sad anomaly in a beautiful landscape"

"Unfortunately, the open cast ban has only led to a new strategy by the mining industry. The plan now is to tunnel under the mountains and ranges and blast out the gold. This might sound like an improvement but as people living with underground mining in Waihi can attest, it is actually and literally very disturbing".

"The first targets for this brave new undermining, are the conservation forests behind Whangamata, the Wharekirauponga lands. This area is the home of one of the rarest and most endangered frogs in the world, the ancient species of pepeketua (Archey's frog). No one can guarantee that blasting under their habitat, polluting underground water supply with heavy metals and changing the water table through dewatering the mine tunnels, will have minor effects. No one can guarantee that Whangamata will not lose its future access to clean water let alone guarantee that the sensitive frogs will reproduce in a human-induced earthquake zone".

"So, yet again, we prepare for a campaign to stop this mine and also the precedents it creates for the rest of Hauraki. We cannot afford to allow OceanaGold to expand into the lower Peninsula because the more they explore the coasts and further north, the harder it will be to stop another bonanza. The very serious news (as the gold price reaches global highs) is that Wharekirauponga has been drilled and the gold concentrations found are much higher than even under Waihi. We have to draw the next line and stop underground mining on conservation land".

Labour's Rubber Stamp

Linda Hill wrote up OceanaGold in (or, rather, under) Waihi in the October 2020 Decisions, under the heading "Labour Gives OceanaGold A Rubber Stamp For Waihi". She wrote, quoting the OIO: "OceanaGold (New Zealand) Ltd, (USA 42%; UK 25%; Canada 11%; Australia 8%; various 14%), has a standing consent to acquire residential (but not otherwise sensitive) land for incidental residential use and non-residential use. The OIO states that OceanaGold applied for this standing consent to acquire residential land related to its mining operations in Waihi".

"It is ultimately owned by OceanaGold Corporation, a transnational gold, silver, and copper mining company headquartered in Melbourne and listed on the Toronto and Australian stock exchanges. It operates two major mining developments in NZ: the Waihi gold mines and Macraes gold mines in Otago. OceanaGold acquired the Waihi Mines in 2015 and has plans to extend its life to 2036, and submits that the purchase of residential properties for various purposes is vital to the viability of the mine".

"OceanaGold plans to acquire residential land related to its mining activities in Waihi, due to the need to comply with conditions of its resource consents. OceanaGold expects that most of those properties will remain suitable for residential use until mining commences and/or while mining takes place. OceanaGold also expects to purchase residential land for physical mining works (including pit expansion or relocating roads), and for use as buffer land from the effects of physical mining works. This standing consent is for up to 15 transactions by 31 October 2023, for a total of 75 ha. of residential but not otherwise sensitive land within the territory of the Hauraki District Council".

"See May 2019 and January 2020 for recent OceanaGold purchases of residential land for waste ponds or tunnelling under associated with the expansion of the Martha Mine. In May 2019 Labour's Ministers side-stepped Green Minister Eugenie Sage when she declined OIO consent in regard to a waste pond she considered an environmental risk. Now she is no longer Minister for Land Information, it appears Labour will let OceanaGold have whatever land it wants without Ministerial oversight".

"On 24 July 2020 OceanaGold announced Project Quattro, comprising:

  • Phase 5 expansion of the existing Martha Open Pit.
  • A new, smaller Gladstone Open Pit to the west of the processing plant.
  • Increased tailings storage capacity immediately east of the current facilities.
  • Raising the crest on TSF1A and investigating options that may include disposal within the Gladstone open pit.
  • A new Northern Rock Stack storage facility to the north of current tailings".

"If consented, Project Quattro has the potential to produce nearly 750,000 ounces of gold over 14 years, extending the life of the Martha Mine to 2037. Search 'Waihi' in Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki's Website for details, background and critique".

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