New Talisman Gold Mines is confident that an application for resource consents sought by the company from Hauraki District Council for exploration and bulk sampling operations falls within the council’s own policy for non-notified applications. This follows an application by Protect Karangahake for a judicial review of the decision to grant the company consents.
The Talisman mine has been mined on and off over the last 100 years and has been a significant gold producer during that period. New Talisman, formerly Heritage Gold, has held the permit for more than 20 years.
New Talisman understands that the council took advice from an independent specialist company on whether the application should be notified or not. The independent company’s report considered that conservation, visual, amenity, recreation, heritage and cultural values would be maintained during the project and appropriate measures would be put in place to ensure that the noise, vibration, hazardous substances and traffic effects would be avoided, remedied or mitigated. Accordingly it recommended the application be non-notified.
Responding to Protect Karangahake’s application, New Talisman's chief executive Matthew Hill said, “The current project is similar in scope to the previous two phases of exploration undertaken by the company in 2003-2004 and again in 2005-2006. The only difference is that in this case ore samples will be removed from the underground workings. Worker numbers, equipment usage and vehicle movements will be very similar to previous operations. It’s important to note that no adverse effects were reported during either of these previous phases.”
He says New Talisman is not seeking to undertake surface exploration as the company is only operating within the existing underground mine shafts. “Because the operations will be underground and within the footprint of the historic mine, the impact on flora and fauna is minimal. The Hauraki District Council and its independent consultant as well as the Department of Conservation recognized this, and that is why they granted the access agreement and resource consent applying some of the toughest environmental controls in the world.
“It is our longstanding view that mining and the community can work in harmony and a balance can be struck between protecting the natural environment while providing vital employment opportunities to the community,” Matthew Hill says.
From information Protect Karangahake has put into the public domain the company believes Protect Karangahake misunderstands the scale and nature of the bulk sampling and exploration operations it intends to commence. The consents granted are for a very limited bulk sampling operation restricted to just four truck movements a day and one single blast per day, and allows no water discharge into the river system.
Matthew Hill says the request for a judicial review appears to be based on an earlier conceptual prefeasibility plan. That plan bears little relation to the limited bulk sampling operation for which consents were sought and granted.
He says the benefits from re-establishing exploration activity in the area are potentially significant. Direct economic benefits include the total expenditure of approximately $1.8 million as well as employment for approximately six people with wages and expenditure spent locally as part of general operational business expenses.