Stirring up Coromandel
Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 11:08AM
Bill Barclay

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. 

 


 

Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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