Mining company ditches operation over prosecutions

A gold mining company will leave Clutha as it prepares to be hit with its second prosecution for environmental degradation in two years.

Christchurch company Maruia Mining has mined the Waitahuna Gully since 2016.

It is understood the Otago Regional Council has authorisation to prosecute the company.

A report on the infringement said ''the discharge of sediment from a mining operation resulted in a conspicuous change in colour and visual clarity of the water'' in an unnamed tributary of the Waitahuna River.

Otago Regional Council legal counsel Peter Kelliher said it could not comment on the matter as it was subject to the enforcement process.

Maruia director Alan Roberts said it was the second time the council had prosecuted, after the company was taken to court over a ''blow out'' on a river bank last year.

Dirty water travelled down the creek for about seven or eight hours before the problem was fixed, he said.

He was fined $25,000 including costs.

The new prosecution refers to an incident about three or four months ago.

Mr Roberts was ''extremely disappointed'' the council decided to prosecute again.

''I had an abatement notice and the inspector came back, but everything appeared to be fine. It was very minor.''

He was ''fed up'' with the council and had decided to retire from the region, he said.

''Maruia Mining has pulled out of Otago.

''You can't deal with the council. I'm just sick of it.

''I mined on the West Coast for 30 years and didn't have a problem with the council there.''

He could not say when the company would leave the area.

He was not leaving because of unproductivity, he said.

''We've made a lot of discoveries. There's enough for 20 mines around Lawrence.''

The company received resource consent from the Clutha District Council for alluvial gold-mining on about 50ha of privately-owned land in 2016.

Cr Michael Laws said he could not talk about the specific incident, but defendants tended to ''diminish their responsibility''.

However, he had filed a formal complaint to the council's chief executive about the lack of ''uniformity'' in the council's prosecutions, he said.

''My concern was that we could fairly be accused, on recent examples, of treating alleged offenders different depending upon their size.''

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