When is New Talisman Gold Mines going to start bulk sampling?

New Talisman have triggered their bulk sampling resource consent at the beginning of October 2018. Currently they are both prospecting and bulk sampling in the mine.

I’ve heard the impact will be relatively small because this operation is all underground. Just how much damage to the land will there be if mining goes ahead?

Underground mining still requires draining the water table which can cause land subsidence. In other places in the Coromandel we have seen the combination of historic mining tunnels and modern mining cause large sinkholes.

This is right in the heart of the very narrow ecological corridor that connects the Coromandel Forest Park, and the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. It’s taking place in an area that is still recovering from past mining, so it’s a sensitive, fragile, recovering ecology at this stage.

It is a very narrow track that New Talisman use to access the mine site, only 2.5 metres in some parts, and sharing the track with mine vehicles is already affecting the safety and enjoyment of those who use it to access the mountain. And we can’t even imagine what it would be like if they start extracting ore and using 10 tonne mine trucks to cart it out!

Is New Talisman Gold Mines just exploring or actually mining?

The resource granted by Hauraki District Council is for exploratory underground drilling to a max of 20,000m3 of metallurgical samples per year. This exceeds the permitted maximum amount of 500m3 for bulk sampling in the District Plan by 40 times!!! Up to 9 loads will be removed from the site via a truck per day.

I’ve heard New Talisman is a small Kiwi company. Where will the profits from the gold go? Will they stay in NZ?

NT shares are listed on the Australian and NZ share market. The top 20 investors are a mix of companies and individuals in Australia and NZ with the biggest shareholder (13%) being Hamish Edward Elliot Brown from 8 Mahoe Ave, Remuera, Auckland.

Matthew Geoffrey Hill, the CEO of New Talisman Gold Mines, has a very personal interest in the shares’ values. Personally he is the 4th biggest shareholder (2.03%) of the company. He is also the Executive Director of International Pacific Capital Ltd holding another 0.69%. The Hill Family Superannuation Fund (HFT Nominees Ltd) owns 2.03%. And the Hill Family Group PTY Ltd holds another 1.3%. These 3 companies are all situated in Australia.

What about the local economy, and all the jobs the gold mine will provide for the community?

The Resource Consent for the next (bulk-sampling) stage states ‘work will be carried out 24 hours a day over two 12 hour shifts… on Monday to Saturday. Work during these shifts will be undertaken by between 4 to 7 staff.’

This is a tiny contribution to the local economy in comparison to the blossoming tourism industry, which has identified that the biggest positive impact on our local economy will come from non-exploitative industries such as the Rail Trail.

An article in the Hauraki Herald from 30.6.17 states “Recent research shows the Hauraki Rail Trail has brought an estimated $39m return to the region … The figures were conservative estimates based on trip counters placed along the trail… The Karangahake Bridge counter logged a massive 92,250’ (movements in a year). ‘For example one cafe on the trail was told to expect 35,000 patrons in the first year but actually got about 120,000 patrons through the door. Drummond said the cafe had to increase staff from 2 to a summer staffing of 15.”

Mining in one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist sites will have a detrimental impact on this booming industry in our area. The portal pad is only 200 metres away from the Windows Walk, and the primary walking track around Mount Karangahake is only 20 metres away from the site. The people who come to Karangahake from all over the world are not here to listen to the sounds of generators and drilling or to meet mining trucks on the DOC track.

Will New Talisman be using explosives, and if so what level will they radiate to and from? Will rail trailers and hikers be safe from slips and movement?

New Talisman is using explosives (probably daily) as they are at the bulk sampling phase, if they progress to full-scale mining then there would be an increase in the amount of blasting..

The bulk sampling consent allows for 1 blast event per day (which is actually a series of explosions lasting up to 8 seconds). We’re not sure exactly which levels the explosions will happen in. Although the explosions will be deep inside the mine (blasting will occur between 200m and 1500m into the mine), it would be extremely difficult to predict the cumulative effects of shock waves given the extensively mined areas of the mountain and the existence of fractures from previous mining.

Several of the Karangahake Gorge attractions involve underground features such as the mining tunnels in the Window’s Walk/ Woodstock Pumphouse, the rock overhang on the Pipeline Walk and the Hauraki Railtrail tunnel. The DOC track leading to the previously accessible underground Talisman Pumphouse situated directly below the mine has been closed due to instability in the rock already. And the tunnel ceiling of the nearby Window’s walk had to be stabilised recently. The Pipeline Walk has to be cleared from slips on a regular basis.

Considering that there are already over 35km of old mining tunnels and shafts inside the mountain, it is hard to predict what effect explosions in the mountain would have to underground features used by visitors and to the already slip-prone cliffs in the Gorge.

How will the waterways be affected? I thought Protect Karangahake’s expert said it wasn’t a problem?

When you have a mountain riddled with over 30 kilometres of tunnels, caves and holes, perched above the water intake for Paeroa, Karangahake and Mackaytown, and subject to some of the heaviest rainfall in the North Island, then the water system that New Talisman claim is “good enough” would have to be extraordinary for the locals not to be worried.

Our water expert, along with a Waikato Regional Council water expert examined the water management plan provided by New Talisman and their joint statement said that, as described, there is no risk to the water supply for Paeroa. However it also stated that baseline surveys needed to be undertaken and analysis of the oxidation state of the ore needed. An additional caveat was that another review would be necessary if New Talisman changed it’s water plan or wanted to bulk sample in additional areas – something they are now proposing to do. To date New Talisman haven’t released the baseline survey information regarding the state of the existing water in the mine.

The risk to water starts with the fine dust produced from the drilling and blasting process. Some of the minerals in the mine include sulphates and carbonates which produce an acidic water, this dissolves and liberates heavy metals like mercury and arsenic. The water management plan from New Talisman acknowledges some loss in the containment system – that adds to the likely acid water deep in the old mine workings that connect to the the Waitawheta River.

Doesn’t underground mining have very little effect on conservation? As long as New Talisman is committed to making sure the surrounding ecology doesn’t suffer from their work, what’s the problem?

We are concerned that an industrial site is getting established in the middle of a conservation estate without a thorough assessment of the recovering ecology. How can you claim no environmental impact if you haven’t established what was present before you began digging, drilling and blasting?

We are committed to monitoring the effects of New Talisman’s activities in regards to any breaches to the Resource Consent/District Plan and the DOC and Waikato Regional Council guidelines. E.g. while all walkers to the area are recommended to wash and disinfect their boots to prevent Kauri Dieback, New Talisman show no regards to protecting our local kauri trees by washing their vehicles or boots. Also the resource consent stipulates that the generator used on the portal pad is supposed to be sound proofed, but the generator can clearly be heard from the portal pad gate as well as from the #7 walking track even during times at the weekend, when NT is not supposed to work at all.

The protesters are all just locals. Are they only worried about their own backyards?

Many of the people standing up for the Conservation land in this area are locals because this is their community and it impacts on everyone in their community. However, there is also a huge amount of support from people all over New Zealand and from overseas.

Many New Zealanders understand that mining on Conservation land crosses an important line. Protect Karangahake members and supporters are taking nonviolent direct action on behalf of the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who made it clear to this Government back in 2010 that they DO NOT want mining in our iconic conservation areas. We will continue to stand and resist for as long as it takes to get New Talisman Gold Mines off this maunga. The Karangahake Gorge is not included in the Schedule 4 legislation that currently protects just part of the Coromandel (i.e. the areas north of the Kopu-Hikuai Road). It should be, as should all the conservation and coastal lands of the entire Coromandel region.

Why was the resource consent not publicly notified?

It was at the discretion of the Planning Team of the Hauraki District Council to decide if this consent was publicly notified or not. The Planning Team decided that there were no affected parties including Iwi, and that all adverse effects on the environment (like conservation values, recreation, water effects, noise, cultural effects, vibration, hazardous substances, traffic safety, etc.) are only minor or less than minor. Furthermore, the Planners ruled that ‘there are no special circumstances that exist, which would lead to the conclusion that the application should be notified.

Protect Karangahake dropped their High Court Case; doesn’t this mean their concerns are unfounded?

Our High Court case against New Talisman was about the non- notified (no public consultation) Resource Consent issued by the Hauraki District Council. To challenge this decision we had to prove that HDC completely failed to consider an effect; it wasn’t important the manner or degree these effects were considered, it only mattered that it was considered.

In the back and forth of evidence exchanged before the hearing, the planners, hired by the council to do the resource consent, were able to patch up their work claiming ‘we assessed the values, we just didn’t put it in the report’. This meant our likelihood of winning diminished dramatically and we made the difficult decision to pull out to best protect our group and community resources.

A positive outcome from our legal action was the recognition by HDC of how important this issue is to the community and the commitment to keep Protect Karangahake informed of future mining resource consent applications.

Don’t we need the gold from this mining for the world’s technology needs?

Only 12.14% of the world gold production is used for any necessary industrial production, from electronics and cellphones to scientific instruments and dentistry. 49.2% of world production is used to make jewellery.
36.5% is gold reserves, e.g. gold bars, held by world governments and private investors.*

We easily have enough gold reserves for all the industrial uses and even jewellery, so why keep digging? Why put the environmental and recreational values of part of our conservation estate at risk to dig up gold that could end up in another country’s bank vaults – underground once again?

If New Talisman wanted to be a modern 21st century gold mining company then it should turn its attention to e-waste: Old computers and other electronics hold more gold per tonne than the rocks from Mt Karangahake.

*Source: Wikipedia