Regional | Coromandel

$1 a year lease to foreign mine company to build on conservation land

Anti-mining group Ours Not Mines is challenging the Hauraki District Council over a 40-year lease it has granted to a foreign mine company.

Oceana Gold is planning to build infrastructure for an underground mine in the Wharekirauponga Forest in the Coromandel.

The conservation advocacy organisation Forest and Bird’s chief executive Nicola Toki says that the road the company is building on only exists on paper.

“So if you were to go to the place where this road is, where they’ve had access, it’s just the bush,” she says.

“It’s not actually a road,” the leader of the activist group Ours Not Mines also emphasises.

“It has the same rights as any other road in the country, so we challenged the licence that it (OceanaGold) got, which was a 40-year licence for a dollar a year from Hauraki District Council.”

Toki says the area that Oceana Gold is going to build on is home to the Archeys frog, an endangered species native to the Wharekirauponga forest.

“They’re evolutionally distinct, and there’s nothing else like it in the world and they’re globally endangered. And those two factors mean it it’s the number one most threatened species and only found here in New Zealand and the majority of that population is exactly where they want to put this mine.”

Ours Not Mine went to the High Court last week to attempt to overturn Hauraki District Council’s lease to Oceana Gold. A decision won’t be made until early next year.

Oceana Gold operates the Macraes mine on the South Island of New Zealand, which is the country’s largest active gold-producing mine, having produced over five million ounces of gold since 1990.

It also runs a goldmine at Waihi.