Mining operations began today on Mt Karangahake, despite strong opposition from the Karangahake community.
Locals out bushwalking this afternoon in the Karangahake Gorge, an iconic conservation estate area in the Coromandel Peninsula, were shocked to discover a locked gate blocking the path of their usual walking route, protected by a team of security guards, and told mining operations were underway inside the fenced-off area.
The alarm was raised and a group of community members went up to the portal pad, the proposed mining site, where New Talisman contractors were working, to express their concern.
Local opposition group chairperson Duncan Shearer said he felt upset to see mining operations starting up. “As someone who loves the mountain and this area, it is deeply distressing to see the beginnings of an industrial mine being set up.” Shearer, alongside a group of locals, spoke to on-site mine managers this afternoon and proceeded to peacefully protest activities at the site by linking arms and walking slowly in front of work vehicles leaving the area. “This mountain is important to us and we intend to continue opposing mining in this iconic and precious piece of conservation estate,” he said “This land should be conserved and protected for everyone’s enjoyment, not exploited and mined for the profit of a few.”
Industrial mining, proposed by New Talisman Gold Mines, has been on the cards for Mt Karangahake, an iconic local heritage and conservation area, since the Department of Conservation gave its blessing to “enter and operate” in 2014.
New Talisman Gold’s CEO Matthew Hill said he was delighted to finally begin operations on the mountain. “We hope this will bring this historically productive New Zealand mine once again on the road back to full production. The portal pad, which is a highly modified industrial site that was closed for many years, will be once again be closed.”
In a statement, Protect Karangahake has said that it does not see any part of DOC land or Karangahake Mountain being a “highly modified industrial site”.
“The Karangahake Gorge is one of the country’s most popular recreation spaces; approximately 100,000 international visitors and locals enjoy the mountain and it’s walkways every year.”
“Even people who are pro-mining can see the inappropriateness of full-scale mining in the Gorge; first and foremost it is conservation land, mining has no place here.”
While this might just be the beginning, locals say they want to warn mining executives that they are in it for the long haul.