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Eugenie Sage vetos vast tailings dump

Written By: - Date published: 7:46 am, May 6th, 2019 - 72 comments
Categories: Conservation, david clark, Environment, greens, labour, Mining, sustainability - Tags:

In a further sign that the current Government’s inter party relationships are at an interesting stage Green Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage has vetoed Oceania Gold’s attempt to buy a 180-hectare dairy farm to store mining tailings from its Waihi gold mines.

The Bay of Plenty Times has the details:

An Oceana Gold (New Zealand) application to purchase land 178ha of rural land for a new tailings reservoir near Waihi has been declined.

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage and Associate Finance Minister David Clark considered the application under the Overseas Investment Act, and formed different views as to whether the “substantial and identifiable benefit” to New Zealand test in the Act was met.

If ministers form different views, the act states that the application must be turned down.

Sage did not believe using productive rural farmland to establish a long-term tailings reservoir of mining waste created substantial and identifiable benefits.

Coromandel Watchdog is understandably very happy with the decision.

From its press release:

“We agree with Minister Sage that there are far better uses for our productive land than to be used as a dump for toxic waste,” says Augusta Macassey-Pickard, spokesperson for the group. “The existing dam was built on productive farmland, that’s more than enough area dedicated to storing this toxic sludge.”

Coromandel Watchdog has always argued that one of the most negative elements of industrial gold mining is the toxic legacy left, including the vast stores of toxic waste from the extraction process.

“Many of the most toxic sites in Aotearoa have been mining tailings dams that have been abandoned or failed. This is not the sort of legacy that we should be leaving future generations, and it is not the sort of this we should be allowing multinational companies to create and then leave in our country.”

Richard Harman suggests (paywalled) that the decision is causing some concern from within Government ranks.  But looking at it from a Green perspective I am not surprised at the decision in the slightest.

Sacrificing productive farm land for the construction of a toxic dump so that copious amounts of green house gasses can be produced in the mining of a yellow metal that has no practical use is not something an environmental party would normally agree to allow.

72 comments on “Eugenie Sage vetos vast tailings dump ”

  1. WeTheBleeple 1

    Gold has a number of industrial uses for which ~ 10% of gold is used. This means around 90% is adornment, and stuff to be stashed in vaults. Or, in other words, 90% of gold mining is superflous to practical requirements.

    I want to see mining companies spend bucks on metal recovery techniques from the land they've polluted. Lord knows they need the PR. Clean it up and people might not tell them to sod off.

    As it stands, they can sod off.

    • RedLogix 1.1

      I want to see mining companies spend bucks on metal recovery techniques from the land they've polluted.

      A lot of preconceptions here based on what used to happen decades ago. There is no question there are old tailings dumps that are a problem, but they bear no relationship to what modern, technically sophisticated operations like Oceania do.

      As for spending money; here is an example of a real commercial process that reduces cyanide discharge to zero:

      https://www.gekkos.com/processes/cyanide-detoxification

      This is just one example of many such innovations and investments the industry makes these days and the kind of direction they are heading in. Obdurate objection based on out of date ideas just doesn't help.

      • patricia bremner 1.1.1

        This has brought me back. A local topic. My home town.

        Red Logix, have you been there? The toxic tailings dam is high above the town river and road.

        It is an earth dam, and the land in this area is easily affected by weather and earthquakes. The dam has grown hugely. They don't need another tailings dam.

        Thank you Eugenie Well done indeed.

  2. Nick 2

    Saw a soul destroying TV show on Peru mining gold in the Amazon, killing the earth for trinkets. Well done Eugenie!

  3. Gosman 3

    Interesting that the Minister supports Dairy farming over what might in the end be a carbon sink.

    • mickysavage 3.1

      I saw it as the protection of arable land. A dairy farm can be converted into producing another form of food. A tailings dump cannot.

      • RedLogix 3.1.1

        A tailings dump cannot.

        Not true, after remediation they can be made safe and can be used as farmland:

        http://www.waihigold.co.nz/mining/waste-rock-and-tailings/

      • Gosman 3.1.2

        A tailings dump can be rehabilitated quite successfully after use and potentially can be used for carbon sequestration as well as for allowing bush and wildlife to return.

        "This discovery points to the potential to use mineral waste from mines to sequester carbon more effectively, supporting remediation efforts."

        https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181212134430.htm

        • cleangreen 3.1.2.1

          Well Gooseman

          please don't invite us to diner if you think a "Tailing dump can be rehabilitated.

      • Gosman 3.1.3

        Here's another example

        https://academic.oup.com/forestry/article/86/2/211/546123

        This seems to be a case of the Greens being anti any form of development and potentially missing the bigger picture.

        • Dukeofurl 3.1.3.1

          Sounds like NONE of that was in the development proposal from Oceana.

          As for rehab for tailings sites why hasnt it been done

          "There are two tailings storage facilities, known as Storage 2 and Storage 1A. Construction of Storage 2 commenced in 1987, and has reached its final crest height. It was decommissioned from tailings deposition in 2005. A substantial database spanning more than twenty years demonstrates that the performance of Storage 2 has been very good. The design of Storage 1A is based largely upon the design of Storage 2. While there are some technical differences, the description of Storage 2 can also be applied to Storage 1A."

          They seem to just 'dump and monitor' and returning to farmland isnt going to occur.

        • WeTheBleeple 3.1.3.2

          That's a bold lie. Nobody is saying the greens are against reforestation of degraded land. WTF are you on about?

      • Enough is Enough 3.1.4

        You clearly do not visit the Waihi area often. As you drive from Waihi to Waihi beach the tailing mountain cannot be missed on your left. Nor can the fact that it being grazed as productive farm land – much like the farm that originally sat below it.

        Read up a little bit about it Greg.

        https://www.waihigold.co.nz/sustainability/environment/rehabilitation/rehabilitation-from-tailings-to-pasture-plantings-and-ponds/

        • Dukeofurl 3.1.4.1

          Google earth maps dont quite the sylvan scene you describe. The slopes are grassed it seems as its too steep for dairying ( a road surrounds the dam slope at its base, the cows being on the original land below the slope.

          Seeing from the road is difficult as a line of screening trees in the area shields it from drivers

          • Gosman 3.1.4.1.1

            I thought Dairy cows were bad? Surely we want less environmentally damaging use for the land than that?

          • Enough is Enough 3.1.4.1.2

            I don't think I would ever describe a dairy farm a "sylvan scene", pretty much the opposite to be frank. However it is as I described it " much like the farm that originally sat below it"

            You must be looking at different google satellite image to the one I am looking at. The southern slopes of the tailing mountain are terraced farm land.

        • greywarshark 3.1.4.2

          Enough is E
          Is Greg mickysavage? If so that goes against the convention here that people are addressed by the pseudonym they have chosen. Why not use the pseudo if you are going to use a name.

          We all should refer to a name as it makes absolutely clear in a thread without having to trace numbers and times etc.

    • jeremyB 3.2

      A preference of being stabbed over being shot does not mean you want to be stabbed.

  4. RedLogix 4

    Coromandel Watchdog has always argued that one of the most negative elements of industrial gold mining is the toxic legacy left, including the vast stores of toxic waste from the extraction process.

    Which is utter bullshit. Modern gold mining systems closely monitor their tailings. The days of using mercury or uncontrolled cyanide discharges are long gone. Waihi Gold run a fairly conservative ore processing flowsheet, and it looks like the bulk of the tailings don't even come into contact with cyanide. That which does is monitored closely:

    https://www.waihigold.co.nz/mining/cyanide-ph-and-acid-drainage/cyanide/

    The world's first cyanide process was at Karangahake in the 1890's and you can bet they didn't manage discharge then anywhere near as well as they do now, yet the place is absolutely not a toxic hellhole. Cyanide in sublethal doses is actually rather safe. The real threat is more subtle, where it can be weakly associated with other heavy metals like arsenic, mercury, cadmium and lead that may be present in the waste stream. This is where the potential for bio-accumulation comes from. This has to be evaluated on a site by site basis, but it's my understanding that Waihi's main trace metal is copper which has a different chemistry and forms very stable compounds posing no threat.

    In developed nations every aspect of the industry is under close environmental scrutiny these days, and tailings discharges and their associated storage problems are no exception. The industry widely recognises tailings storage as it's outstanding Achilles Heel, but modern practice has almost nothing in common with what happened back in the 1800's. Coromandel Watchdog crush their credibility when they associate their cause with inaccurate and outdated information.

    • WeTheBleeple 4.1

      I'd feel a lot more confident if your link was not from a mining company, rather it came from an independent authority.

      "In developed nations every aspect of the industry is under close environmental scrutiny these days"

      I don't believe this for a minute. Or, if there is scrutiny, it is ignored as much as is legally practicable.

      Comparing worse mining systems does not detract from the shithole they're creating in Waihi for the enrichment of very few.

      Oceana Gold Headquarters: Melbourne.

      Other operations. Dodgy…

      “Allegations against OceanaGold Corporation relating to social and environmental issues at Didipio are regarded as irrelevant by the Philippines government which has bestowed on the company a series of top awards”

      https://quarryingandminingmag.co.nz/q-m/mining/didipio-mine/

      Local operations: Miners on strike

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/106960792/oceanagold-waihi-miners-strike-for-second-time-in-as-many-weeks-in-support-for-a-fair-pay-rise

      Tell us more about how good they are.

      • RedLogix 4.1.1

        I don't believe this for a minute.

        Well I do because I've worked around gold processing for some years. I've moved on since then and I've no stake in the industry now. The exact degree of scrutiny will vary from country to country, but it's real and taken seriously as a rule.

        The idea that all mining companies are rapacious cowboys, staffed by dishonest managers looking to rort the regulations is simply not accurate. Quite the opposite, I encountered many highly capable technical people dedicated to doing the best they could everywhere I went.

        • WeTheBleeple 4.1.1.1

          "The idea that all mining companies are rapacious cowboys, staffed by dishonest managers looking to rort the regulations is simply not accurate."

          I've not seen that claim made here. Examining this particular company shows no exemplar of environmental or community spirit. Paying Duterte for awards fills me with no confidence.

          • RedLogix 4.1.1.1.1

            Where you said:

            Or, if there is scrutiny, it is ignored as much as is legally practicable.

            The actual toxic residue from modern extraction processes is rather low and requires accurate, calibrated instrumentation to measure. The lab people are usually contracted in from specialist companies who have a reputation to protect and have zero interest in fudging the numbers. There are standards and protocols; people don’t make shit up on the run as a rule.

            I'm absolutely on the side of people who want to protect the environment, and they've achieved an enormous amount in the past 40 odd years. Industry has responded and generally (although never perfectly) has cleaned up it's act dramatically.

            All this of course is well removed from Coromandel Watchdog's implied slur that Oceania intended uncontrolled dumping "including the vast stores of toxic waste from the extraction process." This is wildly exaggerated and does their cause no good whatsoever.

            Stupid, inaccurate claims that have nothing to do with modern reality only damages their credibility in the eyes of industry people who make the real change on the ground.

            • WeTheBleeple 4.1.1.1.1.1

              So a tailing's dam of the size they propose is not a vast store of toxic waste? I understand workers are largely intelligent considerate types, but many owners appear to have no such qualities.

              As for shareholders – largely shits. Passive income earners who sue bludgeon and bully companies to their demands for more!

              I believe the market has priced us out of common sense and decency and only watchdogs and regulation save us from total cowboy chaos.

              I agree re: Coromandel Watchdog doing themselves no favors with hyperbole (at times). Many groups do this. PETA springs to mind I went to one of their functions: fact, fact, absolute rubbish to applause…

              • RedLogix

                So a tailing's dam of the size they propose is not a vast store of toxic waste?

                In general no. The specifics of each site varies.

                The vast majority of the dam is actually just waste rock that has only been crushed and sorted with no chemical treatment and has no toxicity whatsoever. About 10% or less will typically be the 'tailings' residue from the actual extraction process. The actual ‘toxicity’ of this tailings stream will depend greatly on the ore body and the actual process, but these days it can be measured and controlled much better than in the past.

                Usually these two streams are stored separately, often the concentrated tailings are simply taken back underground into an unused drift and sealed away permanently.

                Waihi Gold is a bit different in that they're exploiting the very low permeability of the tailings and they're using waste rock to build the 'engineered embankments' to contain what eventually becomes a highly consolidated tailings pond. I'm in no position to expertly judge on this, but what is on their public pages does seem very plausible.

                And I think this is the point we can both agree on; I fully support efforts to keep commercial operations like this to account, but we have to do it from an informed and expert position. Watchdogs need to be able to assess whether or not complex proposals like the one under discussion are indeed best practice or not, and demand higher standards as they become achievable.

                I linked to a Cyanide Detox process that is an example (I’ve no idea if it’s applicable to Waihi) as the kind of technology that is available and watchdog groups and regulators can insist on implementing. These things are capable of reducing toxicity from very low to damn nearly zero if that’s what you want.

            • Dukeofurl 4.1.1.1.1.2

              Toxic residue is different from the major harmful effect , the acid rock runoff from otherwise ordinary rock.

              From your link

              "A special feature of the waste rock is that some of it contains sulphide and is capable of producing acid drainage when exposed to oxygen and water. This rock is referred to as potentially acid forming (PAF) rock. "

              Acid is toxic isnt it?

              • RedLogix

                Sort of. It's won't have a high pH that is directly dangerous like a bottle of lab chemical; it would be more accurate to describe it as a weak acid and where runoff is concentrated over time it can create 'undesirable' local damage. And neither are this acids 'toxic' in the usual sense people think of and as they dilute downstream they become quite harmless, undetectable from the background. The actual impact all depends on scale.

                The good news is that a well designed containment pond will have an engineered under-drain system and all of the run-off is easily collected and treated before it's released. In the case of acids, simple neutralisation with something like caustic soda or lime is all that's typically needed. Standard water treatment stuff.

                • Dukeofurl

                  I appreciate your knowledge.

                  But , you seem to get in first saying the waste rock isnt toxic and when its pointed out that the acid runoff makes that untrue. Your response is well, the 'treatment' makes it all OK, knowing we dont have the technical knowledge to dispute that without further digging.

                  is there more rabbits to come out of the hat

                  • RedLogix

                    Well if you want a technically rigorous response it would run to more than a few paragraphs.

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_mine_drainage

                    It is a real problem especially with older sites that were never designed or operated with this issue in mind; but for a new impoundment like the one Oceania were proposing there is no reason to think it's not manageable.

                    I'm all for the Minister challenging the company to demonstrate absolute best practice, but simply to shut them down sets an interesting precedent. Essentially she's saying that mining is an unacceptable activity, and that she plans on riding a bamboo bike to work and writing her Ministerial documents with a quill on parchment. And none of this nasty interwebby thing either.

                    • KJT

                      How much of that relies on gold, RL?

                    • Macro

                      Tell me Red why we need to increase the tonnage of gold that has already been extracted world wide and now sits in vaults in the US and elsewhere? It's not as if our economy rests on it in any way. There is not enough Gold in Fort Knox (around 8000 tonnes) to cover 2% of the US national debt, and all the 170,000 tonnes of Gold that has been extracted would only cover only about 30% of the $US 22 Trillion National Debt on todays prices.

                      It's not as if we need more for any practical use because there is more than enough of it sitting in vaults already doing nothing. So why this crazy desire to continue to fuck up the planet and endanger innocent others, so a few rich people can grasp more of the worlds wealth for themselves?

                    • Jeremy []

                      That's not how it works. When there is a currency crisis the price of gold accounts for all the outstanding currency. In a hyper inflation gold approaches an infinite value relative to currency as the currency value tends toward zero.

                      It's one of the reasons why we mine for gold, as ultimately gold and silver production is restrained by the natural world and in comparison fiat currency production is not, which is why gold bugs call gold the only real money.

                    • Gosman

                      Tell me Macro why you think you should be able to decide what people do with their productive time and money? If people want to spend it mining for Gold then they should be able to do it. Any environmental impact obviously needs to be factored in but not on a default ban basis which seems to be how Sage decides many of the proposals put to her.

                    • Macro

                      which is why gold bugs call gold the only real money.

                      If that was the case – and fortunately it isn't – every economy in the world would be stuffed right now, and the world would be in a massive depression. Fortunately we have moved on from such thinking, which is why even though countries world wide carry massive debts, economies still function. The trick is to manage economies for balance and the repayment of debt.

                    • Jeremy []

                      We might have moved on from the thinking but that doesn't necessary we have moved on from the reality. We're currently running a global fiat currency experiment, and the result of literally thousands of previous such experiments over two thousands years have had the same result every time, a currency crisis.

                      This time may be different sure, but I find the proposition highly dubious, especially over a long enough time frame – it took the Athenians over 100 years to debase their currency enough for it to collapse.

                      I'm personally not a gold bug but I view the risk as real enough to keep a small amount of silver as a hedge.

                      All this says nothing regarding the industrial uses of gold and silver which are extensive, and the fact both are by products of other mining for vital commodities.

                      We, all of us, need mines, and it is much better for them to be in a country with environmental and H and S legislation and a relatively wealthy and concerned populace such as ours, than somewhere where people and the government will take whatever employment and economic development they can get.

                      Green Party politicians seem to like to pretend this simple fact doesn't exist, or can be ignored, or worse still, are pushing for a return to preindustrialised state.

                    • Macro

                      why you think you should be able to decide what people do with their productive time and money? If people want to spend it mining for Gold then they should be able to do it

                      Except of course that there are always limits on what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Right now the earth is under serious threat from continued human exploitation AGW, and the 6th Great extinction are factors that threaten not only other species but our very own as well. “There 107 nationally threatened species (51 flora species and 56 fauna species) within the District, some of which are not found elsewhere.” – Thames Coromandel District Council Biodiversity Report 2013 Mining such as is carried out in Waihi is an extremely pollutant and damaging industry, not only to the environment, but also socially as well. People live and work with mine blasting under their houses. Subsidence of properties is regular occurrence. The open pit is right alongside the main street of the town. It is the biggest man made hole in NZ. And it suffers regular slips as the sides erode.

                      Furthermore there are already two large toxic dumps close to the town and a third is not needed. The mine is reaching the end of its use by date and with all the other societal and environmental factors continuing to exacerbate there is only one sensible solution and that is to cease operations for the benefit of the many and not just the few.

                      Furthermore, Labour in 2011 and 2014 actively campaigned on extending Schedule 4 south of the Kopu – Hikuai road. In 2014 they said that this would be one of the first things to be done in office.

                      You can read about it here:

                      https://teggtalk.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/presentation.pdf

      • cleangreen 4.1.2

        They like using arsenic. Yuk so goosman reckons it can be rehabilitated?

    • Gabby 4.2

      Sounds like the directors could just store it in their garages loggy, it's just that safe.

    • KJT 4.3

      Ignoring the fact that a "modern" tailings dam just over the hill, to modern standards, failed, not long ago.

      There are many other examples. In developed countries, to.

      • RedLogix 4.3.1

        I'm assuming you're referring to the rather old Waitekauri Gold Cross site. Yes it did encounter serious problems in the 1990's, but is now regarded as a success story:

        https://andiky.blogspot.com/2008/11/green-from-gold.html

        Yes tailings ‘dams’ full of thin unconsolidated slurries are a real problem, one that the industry is actively grappling with. But what we have at Waihi are tailing ‘impoundments’ that are far more consolidated and typically unable to flow in the event of an embankment breach.

        • KJT 4.3.1.1

          Having had a lot to do with high risk industry, I don't share your confidence.

          My present employer has high standards, but they are the exception, not the rule.

          Arse covering and avoiding responsibility, is more often a priority, rather than real risk minimisation.

        • cleangreen 4.3.1.2

          Yes RL and they haven't factored in the future super storms that will bring more floods either have they. Their policy is 'live for today'

          • RedLogix 4.3.1.2.1

            When there is some real data around the probability of these 'super storms', then the engineers will have something to work with. Speculation doesn't cut mustard on the big jobs.

        • Marcus Morris 4.3.1.3

          Success in the sense that a disaster of potentially catastrophic proportions was avoided and it would appear that future risk has been averted. However what is overlooked in the very glowing pert of a successful "capping" is that was not the original intention when the mine was reopened. It was intended to have a much longer operational life.

      • RedLogix 4.3.2

        More info on what 'impoundment' means.

        http://nzresources.com/attachments/8855/Waihiupdate.pdf

    • Macro 4.4

      The world's first cyanide process was at Karangahake in the 1890's and you can bet they didn't manage discharge then anywhere near as well as they do now, yet the place is absolutely not a toxic hellhole

      Well no! – it's now in the Firth of Thames .

      https://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/environment/environmental-information/environmental-indicators/coasts/pollutants-in-sediments-report/pollutants-in-sediments-data/

      BTW it was my wife's great Grandfather who was responsible for the introducing the cyanide process at the Coronation mine in Karangahake. God rest his soul.

      As you will well know tailings from this type of mine are by their very nature full of heavy metals and Arsenic. It is the tell tale signs of arsenic that miners have traditionally looked for, when determining which quartz seam to drive. When a tailings dam breaks the results can be catastrophic. Waihi already has two just out of the town. They don't need a third.

      To limit the environmental damage, mines often construct dams and place the toxic waste inside. But these dams do not necessarily prevent contamination of the surrounding environment. Toxic waste can easily seep into soil and groundwater, or be released in catastrophic spills. At the world’s estimated 3,500 dams built to hold mine waste, one or two major spills occur every year.

      https://www.brilliantearth.com/gold-mining-environment/

      These dams, as overseas examples have shown, are susceptible to earthquake damage. Waihi is well within the range of a large earthquake from the kerepehi fault line, which is still active, and as GNS have recently upgraded to a thousand year event and we are now in the zone for such.

      https://teggtalk.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/the-kerepehi-fault-hauraki-rift-north-island-new-zealand-active-fault-characterisation-and-hazard.pdf

    • patricia bremner 4.5

      Yes and the river had NO life for twenty years.

      • RedLogix 4.5.1

        And that's my point, over 120 years ago with no regulations, a very limited understanding of the metallurgy and chemistry, and absolutely no constraint on the discharge, worst case scenario … and after 20 years it all recovered.

        And in the long run this pioneering use of cyanide at Karangahake, while it had a real local impact for a few decades, was pivotal in eliminating the historic use of mercury extraction which was a far more dangerous, persistent and serious toxin everywhere else in the world. It represented a dramatic improvement in efficiency and safety in the gold mining industry everywhere.

        • Macro 4.5.1.1

          and after 20 years it all recovered.

          and washed down river into the Firth where it remains to this day.

          See my link to data collected by WRC on sediment in the Firth with high levels of toxins

          • RedLogix 4.5.1.1.1

            What is in the Firth of Thames is the result of millions of years of accumulation; and it's not obvious what the root cause is. I did look at the WRC link you kindly provided and the remarkable thing is that with the exception of mercury, how low most of the results are. Where that mercury came from and how it got to be there is not obvious from the data given.

            Arguably it could have easily come from mercury based extraction processes in common use before cyanide extraction.

            Still my point remains, even if all of it came from mining processes, which I suspect is unlikely, it's evidence that even the worst case discharge scenario under conditions which prevailed 100 years ago, has not left the Firth of Thames a toxic wasteland.

            And modern techniques are orders of magnitude less risky.

            • Macro 4.5.1.1.1.1

              lol You have obviously never visited.

              before mining hit this region there were 6 separate wharves serving the town. Shipping of course was the means of transport. With the mining the wharves became unusable, as the Firth silted up. I look out of my lounge window at a low tide and the silt extends for several hundred metres. Use of the wharf at the southern end of the town is now only possible at high tide. And this in an area that is subsiding and with global SLR resulting in a overall increase in SLR of around 14mm per year. The silting came initially from mining and now it is being added to by agricultural run off.

              BTW although there are numerous small shark etc to be had, one doesn't eat them (even in a fish curry) because being bottom feeders they have high levels of mercury.

              • RedLogix

                Oddly enough I have visited Thames very recently. The cafe on the wharf is the best fish and chips I've eaten.

                No modern mining operation dumps it's waste or mercury directly into a river. It's like arguing that flying is unsafe because the Hindenburg.

                Besides if not for it's mining legacy Thames would not likely exist as a town.

                • Macro

                  If it was not for its mining legacy, Thames would have decent footpaths and gutters and infrastructure that preserved walkers safety – not open monsoon drains. As a direct result of the 1930's depression and the closure of the mines the Thames Council – which had borrowed heavily on forecast income from rates went bankrupt as workers lost their jobs and were unable to pay their rates. The town was placed under the oversight of a Commissioner appointed by the Government , and remained so until 1947. Thames still has one of the highest rate charges compared to property value in the country as a consequence.

                  Thames and (Waihi , and Paeroa for that matter) is a living example which shows that while mining may benefit some in the community, it does not benefit most. Waihi has one of the lowest socio-economic ratings in the country.

                  Hauraki Summary Hauraki has a large proportion of the population (38%) living in the most deprived zones. When Hauraki is compared against the rest of New Zealand it is worse than the median on all domains except housing. When just the Q5 is considered, the biggest drivers of deprivation in the Q5 zones within Hauraki are access, education, income, employment and health.

                  * The significant areas of population in Hauraki are Paeroa on Waihi, both mining towns.

                  https://waikatoplan.co.nz/assets/Waikato-Plan/About-the-plan-/Our-people-files/Waikato-Plan-Waikato-Region-Index-of-Multiple-Deprivation-report-FINAL-3.pdf

                  • RedLogix

                    However you slice it, without mining Thames would likely still be a swamp or farmland. As for it's relatively low incomes; much of that would be due to the fact that a very high proportion of people in town are over 65. Thames has a nice vibe, but there are relatively few serious income streams. The place is essentially a large retirement village and sheltered workshop built on the leftover infrastructure of it's long gone industrial days.

                    Since humans first started using copper about 9000 years ago, metals have been one of the critical components of civilisation. We'd not be sitting here in relative comfort typing on the internet otherwise.

                    It's all very well to discredit industrialisation on it's many downsides, but pretending we'd be any better off without it is wishful thinking. The way forward is to demand better tech, better engineering and better regulations. When the Greens start heading off in the opposite direction I tend to start wondering if they really understand what they're doing, and what their motives are.

                    • solkta

                      You think the world would be a better place for having a little more gold in a vault somewhere?

                    • RedLogix

                      If you think gold mining should be illegal, just say so. Get the Greens to introduce the legislation and do the job honestly.

                    • KJT

                      Thames is a prime example of how a typical extractive industry removes both the commodity, and the wealth, from a community, and then leaves.

                      With impoverished locals left with the bills, and the damage.

                      I've seen exactly the same cycles, in NW Australia.

                      Which will never be paid by those who profited, as they will be long gone, when the tailings dams collapse and the containment fails.

                    • RedLogix

                      You are typing on a computer that is derived from a 'typical extractive industry'. Everything you blithely take for granted about the modern world has a vital connection to a mine somewhere.

                      Hypocrite.

                    • KJT

                      The "why are you driving a car when you are against more fossil fuels use" argument.

                      Does the fact I once worked on an oil rig, disqualify me from saying we need to get away from fossil fuels?

                      You should know better than to try that shit..

                      No. We don't have to wear a hair shirt, and live in a slum, to be credible about fighting poverty.

                    • RedLogix

                      Does the fact I once worked on an oil rig, disqualify me from saying we need to get away from fossil fuels?

                      If you still worked on an oil rig, then yes it would disqualify you and would make you a hypocrite. (I once turned down a very lucrative job in a coal mine for exactly that reason.)

                      But everyone depends on mining to an extent they're scarcely aware of. Condemning it without acknowledging that dependence is bullshit.

                      If we can be honest about this, then we can make progress about ways to do extractive mining better. We’re already doing a lot better than we used to … this is quite doable.

  5. cleangreen 5

    Eugine Sage = voted best most active Green Party MP.

    • tabletennis 5.1

      totally agree – most effective and productive within the constrains of politics that she is working in

  6. Poission 6

    You have statistics to correlate that , oh …….

  7. WeTheBleeple 7

    Here's the introduction to Heavy Metal Detox, by yours truly.

    Step 1. We admitted we were powerless – that our soils had become unmanageable.

    We’ve all got, or had, some type of self destructive behaviour. Admitting there is a problem is the first step in fixing it. Heavy metal is a problem. Whether it’s immunity to colour and hair flaying air guitar, or widespread and progressive environmental destruction – it’s not that cool, man.

    While Led Zeppelin were dominating the music scene, lead paints and fuels were dominating the landscape. Heavy metal sources include pesticides, fertilisers, effluents, oil, mining, smelting, roading, construction, industry and military. A 1980’s assessment of global air, water and soil contamination showed we have corrupted the cycling of trace elements; heavy metals are increasing in concentrations in our water bodies, soils and food chains. Recent changes in legislation regarding some compounds have reduced a portion of sources of contamination, while little has been done to existing problems. The majority of sites remain problematic, while in many cases, the pollutants continue to gather. Most toxic compounds can be broken down, but the metals cannot. Metals settle in soils and may remain there for thousands of years.

    Sites contaminated by military, mining, construction and industry are a small part of the picture. Many agricultural landscapes are contaminated or approaching contamination with heavy metals. New Zealand’s fertiliser use by the dairy industry now threatens sanctions upon their major export earner – the dairy industry. Vast tracts of land could be taken out of production from phosphate fertiliser increasing cadmium in soils. These fertilisers are widely used throughout the globe, and their use is increasing.

    Cities may be no better off: With higher building and vehicle densities combined with a history of lead products; higher usage of pesticides and fertilisers per area compared to farmers (a budget thing); proximity to industrial zoning; and more. One urban study points to poor children’s exposure to metals in New York’s inner city playgrounds and parks; another finds metal toxicity on Long Island golf courses.

    Ploughmen, poor or plus-fours – are there undesirable elements in your neighbourhood? A Google Scholar search for ‘domestic heavy metal contamination’ yielded close to 100 000 academic articles and references to the subject; it seems we have established there is a problem; but what of solutions?

    Industries response for dealing with heavy metal contamination includes the following:

    1. Remove and dump the dirt as landfill, and bring new topsoil to the site.

    2. Use chemicals to immobilise the metals in the soil, and further chemicals to make the soil surface impermeable.

    3. Remove soil, use proprietary acid solutions to desorb and leach metals out, and put the soil back.

    My concern with these methods is as follows:

    1. Moving the problem is not fixing the problem. Besides, if we dumped all the polluted soils on the planet, the pile might upset the axial tilt.

    2. Water impermeable land is not a solution to fixing land.

    3. ‘Proprietary acid solutions run through the soil to desorb and leach the metals’… amuses my poetic side, but instils no confidence in the scientific or eco-centric sides at all.

    Shift the problem, cap the problem, or make more problems. The price for the methods to ‘clean-up’ contaminated sites in the US alone was estimated around $300 Billion – or $1M per acre.

    If you are waiting for government and industry to solve things, be patient. Chemicals used to clean up the Gulf oil spill were more toxic than the oil itself. Months after the Chernobyl disaster, cesium in Swedish and German field mushrooms was such that toxicity could occur from a single meal. People were poisoned months later, more than 1000 km’s from the disaster. Yet nuclear power plants continue to be built, and catastrophes continue to occur. This wilful ignorance that somehow an even thicker wall and protocol manual makes us immune to weather events, seismic activity, and space rocks… it is insanity.

    “Is it the end, my friend?” – Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath.

    • WeTheBleeple 7.1

      Step 2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

      Assuming you haven’t just purchased a beachfront property in Fukushima, it is possible to remediate mild to moderately contaminated sites. It is even possible to have land in production during the decontamination process. While scores of scientists worked to point out the problem exists, many more turned to seeking solutions.

      On serpentine soils, mine tailings and highly radioactive sites some plants survive and even thrive. These are the metallophytes. Some metallophytes are excluders – they exclude certain substances from being taken up, and grow despite high metals in the soil. Other plants are accumulators, they accumulate things from the soil. Hyperaccumulating plants accumulate high concentrations of substances from soils. Metal hyperaccumulating plants (MHP’s) extract high concentrations of metals. In some cases MHP extraction is > 1% metal per dried weight of plant material.

      MHP’s use photosynthetic power to mine metals for us. Theoretically, we decontaminate soil if we can grow then remove sufficient plant mass. The drawback was that the MHP’s initially observed were not really suited to the task; they were small, or slow growing, or both. Widespread screening for better plants began in earnest.

      Initially, over 400 MHP’s were identified. Further criteria narrowed the pool considerably, including: grow in damaged environments; grow large enough to extract significant metal, and grow fast enough to produce growth in a timely manner. Discoveries are continually being made. A list of some MHP’s and metals they extract is included (Table 1).

      MHP’s accumulate appreciable amounts of metal regardless of soil concentrations, but as toxins increase growth of many MHP’s can be inhibited. Further efforts to enhance the capabilities of MHP’s have included: propagation techniques, genetic engineering, and the use of free-living or symbiotic bacteria and fungi.

      The observation of polluted sites led to the discovery of MHP’s; the observation of MHP’s has led to the discovery of bacteria and fungi involved in decontamination processes. These in conjunction with MHP’s can enhance plant growth and/or metal uptake. Many genes targeted for genetically engineered MHP’s are found in such; beneficial organisms with desirable functions. It is not necessary to insert such genes in plants to gain the use of these functions; rather, to gain understanding of the organisms ecology, and how one might insert them functionally into a decontamination process.

      Then what’s to stop us, pretty baby. But what is and what should never be” – Led Zeppelin, What Is and What Should Never Be.

      • greywarshark 7.1.1

        That's mighty WtB.

        • WeTheBleeple 7.1.1.1

          Getting it to publication is the tricky bit. The access to the science data bases being the issue insofar as finishing strong. About six months work left before it's ready to go. I have to teach a lot to laymen without bending their heads.

          The idea of empowering individual landowners to take care of issues they may have inherited/created drives me on. The corporates who got us here, well, I hope their demise is what gets others out of bed.

  8. Gabby 8

    Baybuh baybuh baybuh BAYEEEBEEE

  9. greywarshark 9

    It seems good that there are native plantings happening around the country. But I wonder if it was manuka mainly. is it wise to be growing it as a monoculture crop if that is the intention? That seems to be what has been suggested for a large planting planned for Tasman.

    In this Lake Waikare news item, there are varieties being used, but the idea that the roots could do beneficial things for the soil is interesting. What other natives might be good for that does anyone; know?

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/countrylife/audio/2018693449/restoring-lake-waikare-one-tree-at-a-time

    The anti-microbial properties found in mānuka leaves and honey is also in the roots and it's hoped it will help cleanse soil degraded by farm runoff….

    Two years ago, in an effort to restore the mauri (life force) of the lake, iwi joined forces with community volunteers and ESR scientists to plant 40,000 native trees around the lake edges.

    The trees are a mix of natives, but the scientists are specifically studying the role of mānuka in cleansing soil.

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