Assessment of mining effects not full enough: NZHPT

An assessment of the effect Golden Bush's proposed mining operation may have on the lower Nevis Valley did not go far enough, a resource consent hearing in Cromwell was told yesterday.

New Zealand Historic Places Trust's Otago-Southland area manager, Owen Graham, said an assessment of environmental effects provided by Golden Bush Mining, was not a full assessment of the impact the proposed mining operation would have on the heritage values of the Schoolhouse Creek area.

The report assessed heritage values, but not the impact mining would have on them, he said.

"So we would regard this report as a work in progress," Mr Graham said.

The joint hearing included planning advisers from the Central Otago District Council and the Otago Regional Council, who both recommended Golden Bush Mining be granted consent for an open cast alluvial gold mine, subject to conditions.

However, applicants seeking resource consent are required to undertake and provide for consideration, assessments of environmental effects, Mr Graham said.

"If we ask the question, have we got an assessment of effects for the heritage values that would be effected, the answer is no, we have not.

"There is no doubt heritage values do exist in the area proposed to be mined."

"There is a certain level of due diligence required and we don't see it yet."

Counsel for Golden Bush, Peter Anderson, said the archeological assessment provided by the company was undertaken by Queenstown archaeologist Andrew Winter, whose name was given to it by the trust as somebody who could appropriately undertake such an assessment.

Mr Winter did not identify any sites that required extra protection, Mr Anderson said, concluding that the protection already required by the Historic Places Act was adequate.

"This supports the approach taken by Golden Bush, which was to identify specific sites and [then] obtain the required NZHPT approval."

It would have been helpful if the trust had identified the sites within the mining area that it considered justified protection, Mr Anderson said.

"If Golden Bush knew the sites NZHPT was concerned about, it could have engaged in dialogue about whether mining could avoid those sites and, if not, what other steps could be taken to recognise and provide for those sites."

Trust regional archaeologist for Otago-Southland, Dr Matthew Schmidt, said it was not up to the trust to provide that information, that obligation was on Golden Bush.

Yesterday's hearing was adjourned so the panel could visit the site of the proposed mine.

Its decision was reserved for 15 working days.

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