Paeroa Drinking Water Fears

Posted in: Global Water News, Water Contamination
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Anti-mining protesters outside the Hauraki District Council building in Paeroa yesterday.  Photo credit: SunLive

Article courtesy of  Luke Balvert, luke@thesun.co.nz | November 27, 2014 | SunLive | Shared as educational material

Anti-mining activists have the backing of a retired Waikato University Professor who believes mining operations in the Karangahake Gorge would lead to contamination of the area’s drinking water.

Around 80 people marched to the Hauraki District Council offices in Paeroa yesterday to oppose plans that allow New Talisman Gold Mines Ltd to reopen mines without public consultation.

Anti-mining protesters outside the Hauraki District Council building in Paeroa yesterday.

An affidavit, provided to the council from a retired Professor of Chemistry from Waikato University, shows the activities consented would produce the risk of heavy metals leaching into the Waitawheta and Ohinemuri rivers.

“This will have an adverse environmental impact on the immediate area of seepage and has the potential for adverse geochemical impacts on aquatic systems and human health,” reads the affidavit.

Protect Karangahake organised the protest to coincide with a New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals representative meeting with Hauraki District councillors.

NZMP is the government department that issued New Talisman Gold Mine a mining permit to incorporate the Rahu exploration permit into the existing one.

Lodged in August, the application for the 390-plus hectare extension is beside its current mining permit in the Karangahake Gorge which includes almost 300 hectares of land, bringing the total area to almost 690.

Protect Karangahake chairperson Duncan Shearer says the evidence released raises the group’s concerns considerably.

“We always knew that the mine was upstream from where the town’s water supply is, but now we have expert evidence of how dangerous the consented activities are going to be,” says Duncan.

“We are very disappointed that in the resource consent granted by Hauraki District Council, the council concluded that the effects on water would be ‘less than minor’.

Photo credit: SunLive

“The Waikato Regional Council overlooked the need for a water discharge consent, despite having granted New Talisman a consent to take up to 300 cubic metres of water per day.”

He says New Talisman’s technical report, which would have been available to both agencies, clearly states that ‘the lower levels of the mine are flooded meaning there is a connection between the mine and the river.’

“That should have set off alarm bells for them,” adds Duncan. “Clean water is quickly becoming the world’s most important resource – much more important than gold.”

Duncan believes council’s planning departments have not done due diligence in assessing the effects of reopening the Talisman mine.

In light of this new evidence, the group hopes Waikato Regional Council will reassess the effects on the waterways and prevent New Talisman starting operations until it can be sure the waterways, including Paeroa’s drinking water, will not be contaminated.

New Talisman has announced on its website that it will be able to start its “small-scale mining” operations on December 13.

The mining issue first came to light in September when it was discovered the Hauraki District Council issued resource consent for New Talisman Gold Mines to mine behind the iconic Karangahake Rail Trail- between Waihi and Paeroa.

Hauraki District Council are not prepared to comment on the affidavit at this stage.

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