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'Disgust' as mining company gets approval to store waste on Waihi farmland

Newshub logoNewshub 8/10/2019 Vita Molyneux, Emma Cropper
Watch: The mining company's Waihi land purchase has been approved. © Newshub Watch: The mining company's Waihi land purchase has been approved.

The decision to allow an Australian-based mining company to buy land in Waihi has been slammed as "disgusting" by a Coromandel watchdog.

On Tuesday, global gold mining giant OceanaGold was given the go ahead for the purchase by minister of finance Grant Robertson and associate minister of finance David Parker.

The additional land will be used for new tailings ponds which are used to hold the mineral waste of mines.

Environmental group Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki says it is "disgusted" by the decision.

"It's not a new application and the Labour Ministers who approved it have ignored the environment and climate risks as well as the loss of food producing land," said chairperson Catherine Delahunty on Tuesday.

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The Melbourne-based gold mining company applied to purchase the same land earlier in 2019.

It was denied as land information Minister Eugenie Sage and associate finance minister David Clark could not reach a decision on whether the purchase would be of "substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealand".

Sage said in a statement in May she did not believe using productive farmland for long-term reservoirs of mining waste would be beneficial, but Clark believed it would be.

Delahunty says OceanaGold has undermined the previous decision made by Sage.

"It is a dodgy deal which will not benefit our country in the long term and we are disgusted that it has been granted," she said.

National's economic development spokesperson Todd McClay says the decision to override Sage shows how unstable the coalition is.

"Eugenie Sage has repeatedly let her Green Party ideology get in the way of making good decisions," said McClay in a statement.

"The decision to override her is a vote of no confidence in the Greens and shows how unstable the coalition is."

Sage says she stands by her original decision.

"I was not involved in Minister Robertson and Parker's decision. They assessed a different application and made an independent decision on the information in that application," she said.

"I stand by my original decision which I formed on the application I carefully assessed."

OceanaGold will now own almost 180 hectares of farmland near its current Waihi mine. It bought the Martha open pit and Correnso underground gold mines in 2015.

It has been approved under the Overseas Investment Act on the basis that it would provide around 340 full time jobs over the next nine years. 

It will also provide exports valued at $2 billion over the same time period.

"OceanaGold welcomes approval under the Overseas Investment Act of its application to purchase 178 hectares of farm land south of Waihi," said the company in a statement.

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