The Timaru Herald

Goldminer fined $51k for polluting creek

- Joanne Naish

A West Coast goldminer has been fined $51,000 for disturbing and contaminat­ing a creek near Greymouth.

The West Coast Regional Council brought charges against CMR Mining and its director, Brent Damon Whyte, of dischargin­g contaminan­ts to land where they may enter water and disturbing a river bed in breach of the Resource Management Act. The company and Whyte pleaded guilty and were fined $51,000 in the Greymouth District Court on Tuesday.

The court heard how the council had given the company numerous chances to clean up before laying charges. According to the summary of facts, CMR Mining went into liquidatio­n in March 2020 and Whyte was the only shareholde­r and sole director.

The company had an alluvial goldmining operation employing several people at Notown on the West Coast. It had a resource consent from the West Coast Regional Council since 2014 to divert and disturb various creeks, take water and discharge sediment-laden water to land for 10 years.

However, as part of its conditions it needed to keep a buffer of 5 metres from creeks and discharges were only to take place from mining ponds. Any discharge was not to discolour water more than 100m away and not increase the natural turbidity of the waterway.

The summary of facts says a council enforcemen­t officer saw Twelve Mile Creek discoloure­d with sediment in May 2019.

An employee was using an excavator in Livingston­e Creek in breach of the consent conditions.

An infringeme­nt and two abatement notices were issued and the fee paid. The company was ordered to do remedial work to the 4 hectares of land which had been disturbed in excess of its resource consent. It failed to do any work.

Enforcemen­t officers found Twelve Mile Creek again discoloure­d in July 2019. ‘‘The dirty sediment-laden water of Twelve Mile Creek was dischargin­g into the much clearer waters of the Grey River. They noted that Livingston­e Creek was significan­tly discoloure­d with sediment.’’

When approached Whyte told the officers to deal with his site foreman and drove off.

The officers found fully loaded dump trucks driving across the bed of Livingston­e Creek and dirty water was being discharged without going to the mine’s settling ponds first.

About 400m of Livingston­e Creek’s bed was disturbed and its bank had collapsed. Whyte declined to take responsibi­lity.

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