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A petition to save the Foulden Maar near Middlemarch from a controversial mining project has attracted the support of more than 1300 people in less than a day.
Australian company Plaman Resources wants to mine up to 500,000 tonnes of diatomite from the maar to be used as an animal feed supplement.
The group Save Foulden Maar has started a petition which it hopes will persuade Minister for Land Information Eugenie Sage and Associate Minister of Finance David Clark to reject Plaman's application to the Overseas Investment Office to purchase a neighbouring farm.
Eventually, the group wants the Government to purchase the land and declare the maar a scientific reserve and have it classified as an area of outstanding natural features so it was protected by the Resource Management Act.
In less than a day the petition had already gathered more than 1300 signatures.
Group member and science communicator Kimberley Collins said the petition had been signed by members of the public, scientists who have worked at the maar and Middlemarch locals.
''This is an internationally significant site for research and I think it is only natural we do try and protect it in the face of destruction,'' Ms Collins said.