Goldmine supporter calls opponents ‘hysterical’

Commissioners (from left) Ros Day-Cleavin, chairwoman Louise Taylor and Craig Welsh at the...
Commissioners (from left) Ros Day-Cleavin, chairwoman Louise Taylor and Craig Welsh at the hearing. Photo: Ruby Shaw
Opponents of a proposed goldmine were described as "hysterical" and "illogical" at a consent hearing yesterday by a supporter who had been employed by the mining company.

Hawkeswood Mining Ltd is seeking consent to establish and operate an alluvial gold mine in a rural resource area at Millers Flat, near Roxburgh.

Consents are needed from the Otago Regional Council (ORC) and the Central Otago District Council (CODC) and the hearing began on Tuesday.

At the hearing yesterday, Stephen Gullick, of Springvale, near Alexandra, told commissioners Ros Day-Cleavin, of Dunedin, chairwoman Louise Taylor, of Dunedin, and Craig Welsh, of Nelson, that the vast majority of people he had spoken to supported the proposed mining activities.

The proposed mine site at Millers Flat. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
The proposed mine site at Millers Flat. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
"I do not see why the hysterical, illogical voices of the few should drown out the many," Mr Gullick said.

"It seems to me some people just hate progress."

Mr Gullick told commissioners he ran a small machinery company and had been employed by Hawkeswood Mining for goldmining tasks.

It was "obvious" consent should be granted because of benefits to the local economy.

Ms Day-Cleavin said, while Mr Gullick’s submission was clear, she did not think his language was considerate.

"I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to call people hysterical when they’re members of your local community."

The CODC received 469 submissions on Hawkeswood’s consent application — eight opposing, 457 in support, three neutral and one unspecified.

The ORC received 10 submissions — five were in opposition to it, four were in support and one neutral.

Six submitters spoke during the hearings, three opposing, two in support and one neutral.

Ms Taylor reassured submitters the commissioners’ decision was not made on the number of submissions for or against the proposed mine.

"Our job is to assess the evidence that’s been presented to us and the views that are provided and make a decision based on the merits for the case — it’s not a numbers game."

Commissioners also heard from opponents of the proposed mining activity.

Millers Flat resident Graeme Young said the gold mine would jeopardise water quality in Millers Flat.

"Water’s more valuable than gold. We can all live without gold — well, most of us," Mr Young said.

Speaking on behalf of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Kāi Tahu ki Otago, Tūmai Cassidy said there was insufficient information to assess whether the proposed goldmine provided for the mauri [life force] of the Clutha River/Mata-Au and of Tima Burn.

"Failure to secure the sustainability of a resource or habitat is linked to a loss of mana."

The commissioners also heard from Georgia Parker and her father Alan Parker, who both own land next to the existing mine pit and who both spoke in support of the activity.

The Millers Flat Water Company also spoke to its neutral submission.

The hearing concluded yesterday.