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Associate Prof Daphne Lee spoke to Dunedin City councillors at a public forum this afternoon, slamming the proposal to mine at Foulden Maar.
She said she had previously held back in providing an opinion due to concerns scientists would no longer be granted access to the site.
"I had no conception that anyone would want to mine the entire deposit."
The fossils provided "absolutely essential knowledge" and a record of climate change which was unparalleled.
Prof Lee said the maar site, about 23 million years old, would eventually become a lake again if a plan to take 500,000 thousand tonnes of diatomite over 27 years went ahead.
Prof Lee spoke to applause from councillors, council staff members and assembled protesters.