Bill welcomed by OceanaGold

OceanaGold’s Macraes Mine might meet the criteria for new fast-track legislation. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
OceanaGold’s Macraes Mine might meet the criteria for new fast-track legislation. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A "large-scale" project to expand the life of Macraes Mine should meet the criteria for the government’s new fast-track legislation, OceanaGold says.

The controversial law change would give three ministers — Chris Bishop, Simeon Brown and Shane Jones — the ability to consent developments whether or not their approval is recommended by an expert panel.

OceanaGold was included in a list of 200 companies and organisations provided information by the government on how to apply for fast-track consents.

OceanaGold New Zealand legal and public affairs senior vice-president Alison Paul confirmed it received a letter from Mr Bishop and said it believed it had projects suitable to be included in the process when it became law.

The two "large-scale" projects it hoped could be fast-tracked were the extensions of its Waihi and Macraes operations.

Macraes was visited by Mr Jones for the unveiling of a new electric shovel last week.

The company released to the Otago Daily Times its previously unreported plans for an expansion of Macraes it hopes will extend the life of the mine to 2030.

The plan included expanding mine pits, backfilling pits not required for mining with waste rock, realigning a road to make way for a mine extension, processing low-grade ore stockpiled on site and revisiting previously mined areas.

OceanaGold welcomed the Bill as a way to streamline the consenting process.

"Such legislation would allow us to further contribute to the economy by reducing unnecessary regulatory complexity, while still ensuring the same high environmental and social standards are met.

"This includes our commitment to continue engaging fully with affected stakeholders, including iwi, environmental groups and members of the local community."

OceanaGold, which previously applied for consents to extend Macraes from both Waitaki District Council and Otago Regional Council, announced in 2020 that new consents meant it could continue operating until 2028.

Santana Minerals, which is behind a planned mine between Bendigo and Tarras labelled "the most significant single gold discovery in New Zealand in four decades", was also included in the companies contacted by the government.

Chief executive Damian Spring said it was working on a plan to get consent applications for a mine to the ORC and Central Otago District Council by the end of the year.

However, it confirmed it had expressed an interest in the fast-track legislation and discussed the issue with Mr Jones when he visited last month.

"If the Fast-track Approvals Bill comes into place within that timeframe and we are lucky enough to be eligible for that process then we will give it good consideration."

The work it was doing, including consulting with the councils and iwi, towards applying for a resource consent would help with any fast-track application.

The company supported having a fast-track process, which he said had the potential to be more of a "one-stop shop" as opposed to having to apply for separate consents from the ORC and CODC.