The Destructive Effects of Mining Boom-and-Bust Cycles on Communities

The issues raised last week by the Buller District Council, at the Parliamentary Select committee hearing considering amendment of the Crown Minerals Act, offer a cautionary tale for the Coromandel.

The issues raised last week by the Buller District Council, at the Parliamentary Select committee hearing considering amendment of the Crown Minerals Act, offer a cautionary tale for the Coromandel. Thames Coromandel District Council planners and community members should take note of the serious risks of depending on a boom-and-bust industry like mining.

“The West Coast rollercoaster ride of unstable economic conditions is a warning to the Coromandel that mining is economically unsustainable. The international prices for gold and other minerals will keep fluctuating and mining companies will constantly shift their plans based on these variations,” says Coromandel Watchdog Coordinator Renee Annan. “Communities with stable populations are far more sustainable than a boom and bust workforce renting houses and disappearing from the rating base once the boom is over.”

“What we heard from the chief executive of the Buller District Council is that in the ‘boom’ part of the industry cycle, rentals are scarce and community infrastructure stressed. What pitiful royalties are collected go to the Government, not the local community,” Ms Annan said.

“The additional irony of a boom in gold with a company like Newmont Waihi Gold is that the profits all flow offshore. It’s the local community that must finance the short-term costs of a stressed infrastructure. Of course, we also know the local community is left with the long term costs such as tailings dam monitoring. When a mine closes, communities lose jobs and are left with the holes in the ground and toxic waste.”

The Thames Coromandel District Council has taken innovative steps toward a different economic vision – one that attracts families and businesses to settle in the area while preserving the peninsula’s unique environment for future generations. New initiatives include: the opening of the Hauraki Rail Trail, the expansion of mussel farming, and the development of a business case for the Coromandel Great Walk.

“TCDC is heading in a positive direction that will help peninsula communities thrive. What has happened on the West Coast, and in Waihi, confirms the toll a boom-and-bust industry can take on a community.”

You can have a say on how TCDC treats mining in its District Plan at the community open days over the next few months. See their websites for dates.

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