Consultation on a proposal that could see mining in Waihi continue for 15 more years has opened to the public today, and has already drawn mixed reactions from locals.
OceanaGold, the parent company of Hauraki’s Waihi Gold mine, is seeking consent to extend its open pit and construct a new facility in the outskirts of town.
The operation’s expansion could see 21 tonnes of gold extracted from the region.
But Green Party MP Gareth Hughes said the area was home to threatened native species.
“We should be protecting those, not actually putting them at further risk,” he said.
"Parliament received a very large petition from the local community who were upset at the disruption the mining industry causes...people don’t see the economic impacts actually flowing through to the wider community."
OceanaGold senior communications advisor Kit Wilson said he wanted to invite the people opposed to the proposal to the site so the mine could share its experience with them.
“When you operate an open pit in the middle of town, like Martha is, there are always going to issues with noise and dust and vibration unless you look after those.
“And we believe we have looked after those.”
The land earmarked for expansion is owned by Oceana gold and would see kilometres of roads reconfigured and at least ten houses removed.
The Cornish Pumphouse, an icon of the original mine in Waihi, would also be relocated.
If resource consent is granted, mining in the area could continue beyond 2036.
The mine is a big contributor to the local economy, employing more than 300 people.
“They’re incredibly good citizens for Waihi and do an awful lot of good for the town,” one resident said.
“I think [the mine] is actually very good indeed, the reason for that is it will provide employment,” another said.
Consultation is expected to last three months, with final decision-making power resting on the Hauraki District Council and Waikato Regional Councils.