'World-class' consultation offer


Eugenie Sage
Eugenie Sage
An offer of a ''world-class'' consultation process has been made by the chief executive of the Australian company behind a controversial mining proposal near Middlemarch if it gets permission to buy a neighbouring farm.

But two of the mine's more ardent opponents say the offer needed to come last year.

The campaign to save the internationally significant fossil site Foulden Maar from a proposal by Plaman Resources to mine 500,000 tonnes of diatomite per year, has attracted more than 8000 signatures.

Chief executive Peter Plakadis said the company would hold a ''world-class'' community consultation process, once the Overseas Investment Office had approved its purchase of a neighbouring 432ha farm.

The company had planned to run a community meeting last year to discuss the proposal but it was yet to happen.

''I can appreciate for the community it is really frustrating but we've been advised not to impose on the OIO decision because it's before the ministers,'' he said.

An appearance at the Mineral Mining Conference being held in Dunedin this week was also cancelled because of the ongoing application process, Mr Plakadis said.

Mine opponents and Middlemarch residents Andrea Bosshard and Shane Loader said Mr Plakadis' offer was something they had been waiting more than a year for.

Plaman representatives, including New Zealand manager Craig Pilcher had been meeting individuals in the Strath Taieri community but so far had not delivered on their promise of a community-wide meeting, Mr Loader said.

''World-class means you do it sooner than later. They've had a year but that's not to say they haven't been meeting people individually and pulling them to the side,'' he said.

Mr Pilcher had also requested a private meeting with Mr Loader and Ms Bosshard but they had declined because they felt the entire community needed to be represented in any meetings.

''We represent some people in the community but not everyone, so it is of upmost importance a public meeting is held.''

Mr Plakadis also apologised for the description of the mine's opponents as a small number of local residents who are not well resourced, which came from a Goldman Sachs report leaked to the Otago Daily Times.

Everything now hinged on the OIO decision, he said.

If Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage and Associate Finance Minister David Clark decide to decline the application to buy the neighbouring farm then the company would have to reassess its plans for the mine.

''If we didn't get the full excavation approval to process 500,000 tonnes, if it was a lesser amount we would have to go back and recalibrate.''

About $32 million had been invested in the proposal already.

The Dunedin City Council will consider a motion put forward by Cr Aaron Hawkins to officially support the preservation of Foulden Maar, at a council meeting today.


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