Some mine fears allayed

As the hearing for a proposed alluvial gold mine near Roxburgh ends, fears of some submitters of dust contaminating their fruit have lessened.

The joint Central Otago District Council and Otago Regional Council hearing, which was before independent commissioners, adjourned after a second day, in Alexandra yesterday.

Kokiri Lime Co Ltd sought resource consent for a 15-year mining project that would operate on 163ha of farm and orchard land.

Submitter Stephen Jeffery, who co-owns the Clutha Packing Centre on the proposed site, said most of his concerns about dust had been addressed through the hearing.

He wanted to be assured there would be an immediate solution if dust began contaminating his packing shed, he said.

"Not having three or four hours of monitoring and then deciding.''

The valley was "not wind-free by any means'', he said.

"Any contamination is a disaster for us. If there's any contamination, we can't export.''

Apricots were the main issue, as cherries were thoroughly washed before packing, he said.

Another concern was drilling causing water to leak under the ground.

"For frost fighting, we get every drop we can out of the ground. If it failed, we'd need to have an immediate backup.''

Hydrogeologist Tom Heller said a schist basement probably extended hundreds of metres under the ground and there was "virtually no risk'' of the operation breaking through it and causing a water leak.

In the amended regional council conditions the mine would have to stop all potentially dusty activities, including topsoil stripping, topsoil spreading and overburden-related activities, during specified wind conditions.

District council planning consultant David Whitney said it was important to make the conditions of the consent clear so they could be understood in future years.

He and regional council resource consents officer Ralph Henderson both reaffirmed their recommendations consent be granted with amended conditions.

The councils received 18 submissions opposing the plans, two supporting, and six that were neutral.

Eight of the 19 landowners involved have approved the plans.

The commissioners reserved their decision.

The amended conditions will be finalised by the councils and the applicant will have right of reply before the hearing is declared closed.

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