Community outreach results in Innovation Award for OceanaGold Waihi
MEDIA RELEASE 8 June 2018
OceanaGold Waihi has won the inaugural NZ Minerals Forum innovation award for how it responded to community concerns over unpredictable mine blasting.
The award was one of three given out at the recent NZ Minerals Forum to recognise excellence in mining and quarrying. The other winners, chosen from eight finalists, were Christchurch-based Road Metals, which won the innovation award and Greenbriar Ohai Coal, which won environmental management award.
Chair of the judging panel Bernie Napp said OceanaGold Waihi won the innovation award for developing a successful early warning system to prevent people being startled by blasting vibration and noise. The company showed “the strongest overall demonstration of innovation by a New Zealand operator in the minerals sector.”
OceanaGold senior community advisor Kit Wilson said having the community understand and accept blast vibration was vital to OceanaGold’s ability to operate its open pit and underground mines at Waihi. The company mines gold under residential properties in Waihi East and operates the Martha open pit as close as 80 metres to the main shopping street of the town.
In a study of community anxiety about underground mining, the previous owners of Waihi Gold identified blast vibration as a key concern for the town’s residents. Residents felt a sense of helplessness over mining activities and wanted more predictability in noise and blasting effects and more information regarding actual effects of mining activities.
“Ultimately, the residents wanted a sense of control, and the ability to express concerns and give feedback,” Kit said.
The company developed a Blast Notification Programme that encompasses innovative technology, proprietary hardware, and social outreach programmes.
Residents can have a device plugged in at home that transmits an audible warning shortly before a blast.
“The Blast Notification Coaster is a very effective tool for managing potential psycho-social effects of mining, through the reduction of ‘startle events’,” Kit said.
Staff also contact residents by phone a day before blast events, and advice on blasts is posted on the company website each day, as per resource consent conditions.
Its social outreach programmes include Blast Vibration Workshops, regular community meetings, underground tours for local residents, and a monthly newsletter.
“What we needed to do was fold all of these consent requirements and community outreach programmes into a workable and coherent programme that could be used for each blast event,” Kit Wilson said.
“The Blast Notification Strategy and associated community outreach allows OceanaGold to mine in close proximity to the town with minimal objection and a high degree of acceptance and understanding.”
About the NZ Minerals Forum
The New Zealand Minerals Forum is a two-day conference and exhibition covering mining in New Zealand. It is designed: to showcase the New Zealand mining sector to stakeholders and prospective investors; and educate and inform the New Zealand mining community. It attracts high-level attendance from mining companies, government regulators and agencies, the investment community and service companies.
The event is a joint venture between the industry association Straterra and Freeman Media, publisher of Inside Resources. New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals is the Foundation Partner.
Straterra is the industry association representing the New Zealand minerals and mining sector. Our membership is comprised of mining companies (including coal and gold), explorers, researchers, service providers, and support companies.
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