Ministry shuts down West Coast gold mining exploration enterprise

Farmland owner Peter Morrison has invested about $2 million in 2020 looking for gold on a 500ha block he owns near Inangahua Junction.

2021-07-12 13:41:33

The Ministry of Enterprise, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has shut down a West Coast gold mining exploration enterprise that was injecting $500,000 a yr into the native economic system.

Farmland owner Peter Morrison has invested about $2 million in 2020 looking for gold on a 500ha block he owns near Inangahua Junction.

Farmland proprietor Peter Morrison has invested about $2 million in 2020 searching for gold on a 500ha block he owns close to Inangahua Junction.
Photograph: Provided through LDR

In response to Peter Morrison, who owns farms in Canterbury and on the West Coast, the enterprise had the potential to create 12 well-paid jobs.

He has invested about $2 million over the previous yr, searching for gold – and discovering it – on a 500ha block he owns close to Inangahua Junction.

Morrison was working below an exploration allow, using three expert operators and native contractors on the 1ha web site to judge the potential for a full-scale alluvial mine.

“We utilized a yr in the past for a mining allow however we’re nonetheless ready … within the meantime we have been doing the feasibility work … making an attempt to work out if it could be financial to go all in.”

However after being instructed by MBIE he was breaching the exploration allow and threatened with large fines, Morrison has been compelled to drag the plug.

“This has been occurring for months … I’ve had my lawyer have a look at it and he cannot see what this alleged breach is – all they are saying is that the outlet’s too huge,” Morrison stated.

Buller District Council and West Coast Regional Council stated there have been no points with the land use and useful resource consents they issued for the location, and Morrison had paid the required surety bond.

However after extra stress from officers two weeks in the past, Morrison reluctantly laid off his three employees.

“I am sorry to lose them, they had been a really expert group. I doubt I am going to get them again. And people had been $100,000-a-year jobs.”

4 MBIE officers had turned up twice in a single week and been “very aggressive”, he stated.

“They walked round trying grim and grilling my employees and saying it was fairly huge for an exploration. Nevertheless it’s only a tiny fraction of the 500ha allow,” Morrison stated.

“You must excavate a good space to work out what is going on on with new alluvial websites, and see if mining is possible.”

His crew of three, plus contractors, had excavated a deep pit to discover the construction of the location, assess the volumes that may should be stripped and had been testing various kinds of tools.

Within the course of, they’d extracted about 100 ounces of gold over the yr.

“We have stored all of the data, we have complied with all our useful resource consents – and we have been harassed out of enterprise,” Morrison stated.

“They only hold saying it is too huge … the largest exploration web site ever seen in New Zealand. However the exploration allow would not set any measurement or quantity restrict. And if they need me to have a mining allow, properly they’ve had a yr to course of the applying and thus far – nothing.”

An MBIE spokesperson stated Morrison’s utility for a mining allow was being evaluated however there was a backlog of functions.

“There was a sizeable enhance within the variety of functions for all allow varieties final yr, particularly within the wake of the lifting of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Purposes for gold-related permits actually took off, largely pushed by a excessive gold worth.”

The allow queue had grown quickly in the previous few months of 2020, and officers had been making an attempt to take care of it as shortly as attainable, the spokesperson stated.

The ministry didn’t clarify exactly how Morrison had damaged the foundations, however stated exploration permits allowed information gathering over small, particular areas to check if the useful resource was commercially viable.

“Exploration actions can embrace aerial or seismic surveys, intensive surface-sampling and drilling core samples, trenching, bulk sampling and financial and mining feasibility research might be undertaken.”

Inangahua Neighborhood Board chairperson John Bougen was calling on the ministry to elucidate precisely why it shut down the enterprise.

It was deeply disappointing to have a probably productive non-public enterprise closed by officers from afar, in a neighborhood that badly wanted business and employment, the Reefton businessman stated.

“These had been high-paying jobs for expert employees, and MBIE has simply pulled about half one million {dollars} in wages a yr out of our neighborhood, whenever you depend the contractors as properly,” Bougen stated.

“Pete Morrison was investing in our neighborhood and we have to encourage new business, not strangle it with purple tape.”

Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine stated he could be involved if Morrison’s operation had been shut down unnecessarily.

“You’ll assume the ministry had good cause; that there had been a breach of the allow or no matter.”

A ministry spokesperson confirmed the allow Morrison was working below didn’t restrict the dimensions of the operation, however he believed officers had been involved that mining was happening somewhat than exploration.

Nationwide Celebration checklist MP Maureen Pugh stated the shutdown was the worst attainable information for the neighborhood and was avoidable.

“It is a disgraceful final result and I am really sorry for Mr Morrison, that he is been handled this manner – plus we have now misplaced jobs, not one thing we are able to afford to have occur on the West Coast.”

The allow course of had been a problem for a lot of miners for years, Pugh stated.

“It’s turning into an increasing number of apparent that the federal government and its ministries will not be performing properly and as I see it, there aren’t any penalties for poor efficiency, so requirements slip.”

MBIE stated allow functions had soared from about 30 to 90 in a matter of months and it was doing its greatest to take care of the backlog.

“Purposes which were with us the longest can be prioritised for processing as will these permits which might be time-sensitive,” the ministry stated.

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