Doc drops opposition to mining

The Department of Conservation has withdrawn its opposition to Golden Bush Mining Ltd's gold-mining application in the Lower Nevis Valley.

Doc agreed not to oppose the amended resource consent in return for Golden Bush reducing the area of its proposed mining, it was confirmed at a resource consent meeting in Cromwell yesterday.

The joint hearing included planners from the Central Otago District Council and the Otago Regional Council, and also heard submissions from the Central Otago Environmental Society and John Douglas, of Alexandra.

The company is seeking to mine 29.5ha of land at Schoolhouse Flat, in the lower Nevis Valley, a smaller area than originally proposed as part of Gold Bush's 750ha claim.

Doc Central Otago community relations ranger Jacob Dexter, when asked, said no payments had been made to Doc by the company.

The agreement was made to mitigate potential damage to plants, fauna and historic sites.

"We took a proactive role, talking to the applicant to identify and agree to mutual, robust conditions about areas which could be excluded.

"The agreement satisfies the concerns of the department, but it was not intended to address all the needs of the two councils, and other parties' concerns."

New Zealand Historic Places Trust's Otago-Southland area manager Owen Graham opposed the application as there had not been any assessment of "any activities which could damage, modify or destroy the heritage values of the site".

The meeting was adjourned until later this month to allow Golden Bush time to provide the panel results of an archaeological assessment of the heritage values and potential effects on the area.

Golden Bush director Mark Skinner said the adjournment was disappointing. The company just wanted to start mining what he said could be $20 million worth of gold.

"Yes, there are environmental issues, but with the conditions from Doc and the councils, you won't know we are there," Mr Skinner said.

- Joe Dodgshun


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