Hopes mine staff will find other jobs

Neil Gillespie.
Neil Gillespie.
The demise of the Earnscleugh gold mine would have a huge impact on the district economy but there was some hope, Central Otago community and business leaders said yesterday.

Closure takes workers by surprise

Unemployment was low in the district, so it was hoped the 35 staff made redundant would find work, the leaders said. The mine will stop operating at the end of next month.

Central Otago Acting Mayor Neil Gillespie said the news was '' a real shame'', given the company spent about $10 million a year locally.

''There's no doubt it will have an impact, when you take that amount of money into account, but we have to remember the days of the mine were always numbered.

"It's a real shame it's finished earlier than expected, especially for the employees and the associated businesses, but I think people here are resilient and we'll move ahead as best we can.''

The area had benefited from the project and the end of the operation was due to factors outside anyone's control.

''I think this was an opportunity for Central Otago and there will be other opportunities around the corner .''

Vincent Community Board acting chairman Barrie Wills said the announcement was a surprise to him.

Mr Wills, a member of the Mining Liaison Committee, said he had inquired about the impact of low gold prices on the business over the past year at a recent committee meeting, and was told it was not a problem.

The liaison committee met quarterly to discuss progress and monitoring of the site.

A document from the most recent meeting, on June 25, did not mention any plans to cease mining. The closure would be a ''hell of a hit'' for the community, he said.

Otago Chamber of Commerce Central Otago Advisory Committee chairman Scott Sinclair said it was disappointing when a major employer pulled out of the district.

Other gold mining operations in the wider area had scaled back or ceased operating as fluctuating gold prices made the industry challenging, so the news about the Earnscleugh mine was ''reality''.

''I'm definitely disappointed for Central Otago, not to have that money pumping into the community any more, and I feel for the staff who have lost their jobs.

"Unemployment here is relatively low, so I'm hopeful they'll find jobs locally and stay in the community,'' Mr Sinclair said.

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