National | Mining

Ngāti Hau wants financial backing of Puhipuhi gold mining project pulled

Ngāti Hau kaumātua are leading hapū members and other supporters today in a bid to stop Evolution Mining Ltd’s gold mining exploration programme on Puhipuhi Mountain.

The contingent  arrived at the head office of Citibank in Auckland City today claiming it provides financial backing to Evolution Mining Ltd

Ngāti Hau anti-mining spokesperson Vaughan Potter says, “Foreign banks invest in mining and profit from the pollution it causes because they skip out on the cost of toxic clean-up.

“We’ve come to tell them face-to-face, just what the costs will be to our whenua and waterways.  We want them to see the mistake they’re making in backing Evolution Mining.”

Evolution Mining Ltd  issued a statement following the event saying it wanted to clarify misinformation that Citibank or Citigroup (“Citibank”) is a shareholder in the Company.

The statement said; "In Evolution’s 2016 Annual Report, Citicorp Nominees Pty Limited is listed as holding 34.95% of Evolution’s issued capital as at 4 October 2016. These shares are not owned by Citibank.Citibank provides an administration service which manages investments in publicly-listed companies on behalf of large shareholders. This service is provided by many of the world’s largest banks and many large shareholders commonly use these services when investing in companies listed on stock markets. To reiterate, Citibank has no shareholding in Evolution and Citibank has provided Evolution with no funding relating to the Puhipuhi exploration project in New Zealand."

Those opposing the mining exploration project hold major concerns over the potential “poisoning of waterways, including through the leakage of arsenic, mercury and other toxic substances.”

Whaea Thelma Connors, one of the elders championing the opposition says, “Puhipuhi and its waters are ours to protect, maybe these big investors don’t understand how precious its waters are to us. Evolution Mining’s project is a threat to our waterways so we’ll be calling on these investors to tell Evolution to pull out.”

MineWatch Northland spokesperson Tim Howard says “Evolution Mining have been telling their investors they have the support of the local hapū and community. We’re here to set that record straight. We’re here standing up, Māori and Pākehā, to say we don’t want toxic mining polluting our waterways and polluting our communities.”

According to Evolution Mining's website it has "initiated a comprehensive environmental baseline study which commenced in February 2016.  Consultation with Tangata Whenua and the community will occur throughout all phases of our exploration programme."

It also says, "We understand that some members of the local community, including Tangata Whenua, have a high level of concern about the environmental impact of our exploration activities and any potential future mining should the project ever proceed to that phase.  In particular, concerns have been expressed around potential release of mercury into the waterways, given the high levels of naturally occurring mercury in the Puhipuhi area and legacy issues relating to past mining and quarrying practices in the region."

For years Ngāti Hau has been vehemently against mining in their region  with the most recent march in September where security for the Evolution Mining Company was breached as anti-mining groups, hapū and supporters from across the region gathered in support of local hapū Ngāti Hau's anti-mining stance.

In 2013 Native Affairs also investigated concerns raised by those against Evolution Mining Ltd's plans

Also in 2013 Ngāti Hau blocked State Highway 1 at Waiotu in a bid to step up action and have their concerns addressed.