Social impacts of closure of Newmont Waihi Gold operations: A report for Newmont Waihi Gold

Robin Evans, Phil Clark, Trista Hill, Tapan Sarker and Tian Zhang

Newmont Waihi Gold (NWG) operates the Martha open pit and Favona underground mines near the town of Waihi in New Zealand. The existing mine plan indicates the closure of the open pit in August 2010, and the underground operation in August 2011. A possible Eastern Layback could extend the life of the open pit to September 2013. Although local and regional exploration programs continue, it is quite possible that all mining operations in Waihi could cease within the next two to four years. Closure is likely to involve a series of step changes, associated with the closure of the open pit and underground mines at (likely) different times, followed later by processing operations and finally the rehabilitation areas. This study focussed on the potential social impacts associated with these changes, which are likely to be spread over a period of several years. It included interviews with a range of local stakeholders, a review of available public domain information and statistics on the community, a survey of all NWG and contractor employees and a separate survey distributed to businesses in the town. The information was combined to provide an assessment of the potential social impacts of closure of NWG operations on the community of Waihi. Waihi is a relatively small community of approximately 4500 people, located in a scenically-attractive rural setting at the base of the Coromandel Peninusula. The direct and indirect impacts of NWG operations account for approximately 25% of the town’s economy. Other significant employers are the retail and hospitality sectors, and there are also several small, specialised engineering and manufacturing businesses located in the town. Key aspects of the demographics include an ageing population, and a noticeable dip in the proportion of people in the 20-30 year-old bracket. The latter is attributed to many young people seeking employment or further study opportunities elsewhere. The community also features a high proportion of people on invalid or sickness benefits, and scores relatively highly on socio-economic deprivation scales. This suggests a community that could be vulnerable to significant changes in the town’s economy. While previous studies have indicated majority support for the mining operation, amenity issues continue to be a concern for some in the community. There is an ongoing scepticism that the mine will actually close in line with the current timeline.

Evans, R., Clark, P., Hill, T., Sarker, T., & Zhang, T. (2009). Social impacts of closure of Newmont Waihi Gold operations: A report for Newmont Waihi Gold

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New Zealand
Social impacts of closure of Newmont Waihi Gold operations: A report for Newmont Waihi Gold