Ministry worried mine may contaminate water

Concerns over the potential for contamination of a Southland school’s water supply have been raised in the one submission to a gold mine consent application.

Bromoore Gold Ltd lodged an application with the Southland District Council when it looked to renew consent for extraction of gold from near Waikaia.

Submissions closed at the end of August.

While the Ministry of Education held a neutral stance in its submission, it requested more information from the company on the potential contamination and drawdown effects on the drinking water supply at Waikaia School.

Education Infrastructure Services deputy secretary Kim Shannon explained its only concern was to ensure there were no negative impacts to the water supply from the operation.

"The planners are working on our behalf with the applicant to address the matters raised in our submission. This is an ongoing process and we expect this to take several weeks."

The school is less than 2km from the proposed mine.

The submission, received after an OIA request, said the ministry sought to ensure any potential impacts on schools resulting from this resource consent application were addressed.

It noted there were also other wells nearby used for domestic supply, and one bore used for water quality monitoring, and asked the applicant to list all wells and establish a baseline for both water levels and water quality prior to commencing its operations if consent was granted.

"The applicant should establish a groundwater monitoring programme to monitor potential water level and water quality changes at these bores."

Heavy metals it was concerned about included arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, zinc, iron, mercury, and manganese.

It goes on to explain that gold deposits in south Otago may contain high concentrations of heavy metals which can be mobilised by acid mine drainage (AMD) when stockpiles are exposed to rain.

Therefore the ministry was concerned there was potential for surface and groundwater contamination from the goldmine site given how close it was to the school’s bore.

"Further information regarding the potential effects of heavy metal contamination from AMD is requested to enable the ministry to make an informed decision . . . If AMD potential is identified, the applicant could propose mitigation measures to prevent groundwater and surface water contamination."

As well as this, it asked for the applicant to liase with the school and the ministry.

Next steps will include a potential pre-hearing meeting, a section 42A report be prepared, a hearing held and a decision issued.

The decision would have the rights of appeal.

The director of Bromoore Gold Ltd could not be reached.


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