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The first day of a hearing into the resource consents for an alluvial gold mine at Coal Creek was held in Alexandra yesterday Kokiri Lime Co Ltd owner Mack Ferguson outlined his company's "proven track record'' and other witnesses covered issues such as measures to suppress the dust from the venture, rehabilitating the land and the effect on water supplies.
The joint hearing, covering applications to the Central Otago District Council and the Otago Regional Council, is before independent commissioners David Clarke, of Arrowtown, Terry Emmitt, of Bannockburn, and Brent Cowie, of Christchurch.
A total of 27 submissions were received by the councils, 18 opposing the plans, two in support, six neutral and one not indicating any stance.
The mine would cover 163ha of land now used for pastoral farming or horticulture and would employ up to 10 people.
Eight of the 19 landowners involved have approved the plans.
Mr Ferguson agreed to set aside $24,350 for a Coal Creek amenity fund, for cycle and walking trail maintenance, any other recreational facilities in the area, or activities that benefited the Coal Creek community.
Kokiri was a family company and had been involved in alluvial goldmining operations in the South Island since 1997, complying with all regulations and requirements, he said.
Mining at Coal Creek would be carried out for about 15 years.
Several submitters asked how economically viable the project would be and a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers said the economics of the operation were "robust''.
Other submitters were concerned at the potential loss of production from orchards in the mine path.
Those properties could not be mined unless the owners gave permission and then it would only affect part of the property.
The potential loss of productivity should be weighed up against the employment opportunities created by the mine, Mr Ferguson said.
Hydrogeologist Tom Heller, addressed issues about continuity of water supply and the effect on the aquifer and groundwater quality and said any problems could be mitigated.