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Stirring up Coromandel

This release has just appeared on the TCDC Website:

 The Thames-Coromandel District Council is supportive of an investigation into the removal of historic mine tailings discarded into the Coromandel Harbour during the gold-rush of the late 1800s. It is believed that much of the gold was not removed due to the limited technology available at the time and processed tailings, still rich in gold, were simply dumped into the Harbour.

Private company Sea Group Holdings Ltd is looking to extract gold from the waste which would also fund the Harbour remediation.

"In reality, much of the Harbour is actually a tailings dumpsite, which over the years has trapped silt from the rivers which has turned a beautiful deep-water Harbour into mud-flats" said Mayor Glenn Leach.

"If the private sector can remediate the Harbour back to its original state, without significant environmental damage and at no cost to ratepayers, then this would be a win-win for the Coromandel".

The Council is also preparing plans to build a new Coromandel wharf to provide the fast ferry with direct access to Coromandel Town from downtown Auckland. The Council will investigate the viability of using clean fill from the Harbour remediation to construct the wharf, as an alternative to quarried rock from land-based sources.

"It's early days yet and only a prospecting license has been granted to Sea Group by the Government, so we don't even know if the project is economically or environmentally feasible, but if our project to build a wharf for the fast ferry lines up with the remediation of the Harbour by Sea Group, then we'd be foolish not to at least explore the opportunities" said Mayor Leach.

"The anti-mining groups have to realise that these minerals aren't in their natural state; they don't belong in the Harbour and the community and the environment could benefit greatly from the remediation.

If the industry that created the mess in the first place can clean it up once and for all, then I think it's worth investigating and for the business case to be ultimately tested by the very high environmental standards set out in the Resource Management Act" said the Mayor.

Note the extreme 'pussy-footing' - everyone is well aware of the hornets nest that was stirred up in Thames when a gold recovery proposal was put up a few years ago, and quickly knocked on the head. The whole idea of disturbing the contents of the harbour, and the consequent disposal of the contaminated residue was a complete anathema to most - there had been little thought given to the latter.

Of course the situation in Coromandel is different inasmuch as the Council has an interest in a) digging out the harbour to provide access to Auckland ferries, and b) providing fill for whatever capital works are required. 



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Reader Comments (9)

Fantastic idea- one which has been mooted before - but lacked support from the community at large. Splendid news that Mayor Leach has thrown his wholesale support behind the project - after all he is from a mining background and understand what is required - also the idea throws a lifeline to TCDC who desparately need help to sort out the problems in the Coromandel harbour. Shame the marina folded because of a negative element in the town - locals then were concerned about an influx of 09er's- but that happened anyway- though the opportunity for the marina has been lost. The company behind the idea will need to ensure that the sediment so stirred up does not effect the current mussel farms- such protection may involve driving sheet piles around each area that is to be mined - but with the Mayor's support this has to be winner.
Gold in thar hills--no gold in thar harbour -- bring it on Glenn

April 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAu

Not sure if this is an effort to stir up a bit more mud - I only twigged when I saw the mention of sheet piling - yeah right!
I can harly wait for the belated local reaction.

April 21, 2013 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

The environmental risk of contaminants escaping in this situation are far greater than the risks associated with the digging up Moanataiari. Not sure where Mayor Leach gets his environmental knowledge from but I suspect he is not serious in any case. More of a tilting at windmills approach, appearing to be Gung ho and pro industry but stymied yet again by the greens. Then he can rail against the greens, Maoris, hippies and probable WRC as well to consolidate his support from conservative rump of his support base.. Has the election campaign started already?

Also not what it actually means to have the mayor for something like this in reality. It is not his decision to make nor that of TCDC for that matter.

April 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Hey Au - you do realise that TCDC has no legal jurisdiction or delegation to manage any harbour, including Coromandel harbour? That my friend falls to the Regional Council. TCDC's involvement stops with the ownership of a few pieces of harbour furniture, including Coromandel Wharf. I for one am keen on the project (which is being reincarnated for the upteenth time), but I personally would not want to spend one penny of ratepayer money on investigating or building a new wharf or for gold extraction. That should be the responsibility of private enterprise with the "assistance" of the Regional Council. TCDC involvement could easily and rapidly lead to another Whitianga Sportsfield. Leach needs to learn to stick to Council core business and leave these flights of fancy alone.

April 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSailing Away

A little harsh on Mayor Leach, Sailing Away -- he has shown to be a Mayor of vision, Coastal walkways, new tourism board, exciting sporting complex in the Bay, borrowing to keep rates down, reducing staff at Council and now supporting a private entreprise company who wish "at no cost to ratepayers" a chance to clean up Coromandel Towns harbour after all "industry created the mess in the first place"
With Leach's vision and drive we could end up with a deep water harbour, a nice new wharf for "fast ferry" travel to Coromandel from the City, and maybe a wharf for the aquaculture industry [not if but when] -a win win for all of us. Such a vision would ensure less cars/trucks on NZ's best coastal drive- the Thames Coast road - by encouraging vehicular ferries to a new wharf ----- yes Sailng Away, Mayor Leach has a vision-

April 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAu

Hey Au, Of course - how could I have been so stupid not to have seen this vision?? Its all clear to me now! Bring it on I say - but I'll only be happy if the wharf area includes a reclaimed sportsfield to cater for the population growth at Coromandel.

April 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSailing Away

Wow, Au has let the cat out of the bag. Borrowing to reduce rates he says! Well I am sure a lot of people were led to believe by leach that this had been achieved through creating 'cost efficiencies!. In any case, gold has had a price collapse recently to a level effectively making any new gold mining operation on the Coromandel uneconomic. There are now so many red herring in the Coromandel harbour, aquaculture will soon be farming them. Dream on Au.

April 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

Good letter by Denis Tegg about Leach's mining aspirations in yesterdays Hauraki Herald - maybe you should ask Denis for permission to reprint?
The actual laws / regulations about mining on the Coromandel Peninsula are complex. Political grandstanding at the expense of those things should be rightly brought to account.

May 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

The practicalities of getting gold and silver from old mine tailings mean that the Coro harbour will not pay for any reclamation. Grinding the rocks to a fine powder and treating the slurry with chemicals to get the G and S will leave a toxic waste filled with heavy metal salts. Who would want that in their back yard? Newmont mining will leave the enormous tailings dam (hidden from public view) behind when they close down. The Coro Comm. Bd. had ,in the past , a chance to produce a reclamation at Jack's Point. It would have allowed a large area of ground for commercial use i.e. parking, storage, income. Filling in behind the sheet piling would be achieved by the dredgings to deepen the approaches to the present wharf or its extension. The muddied water from the operation would be temporary just as flood waters from the rivers is. The work on the Sugarloaf wharf for the use of mussel farmers will be inadequate because storage and parking is not catered for. Either Coro or Thames needs a new wharf complex to cater for the acknowledged increase of aquaculture products and servicing of the boats let alone the parking needs of recreational fishermen. Council has to make a decision soon. Whatever they decide will not please everyone. Tough biccies.

May 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter H Wood,

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