$22.5 million Tui Mine clean-up completeEnvironment
A $22.5 million government-funded project to clean up New Zealand’s worst contaminated site is now complete, Environment Minister Amy Adams says.
Ms Adams today attended a closing ceremony at Tui Mine at Te Aroha to mark the successful conclusion of the five-year project.
“Tui Mine posed a real safety and environmental risk for the Te Aroha community for many years, so it is extremely satisfying to complete the project,” Ms Adams says.
The Government committed $21.5 million to the clean-up. Together with money provided by Waikato Regional Council and Matamata-Piako District Council, this formed a joint fund of $22.5 million.
“The financial contribution from the Government is the largest ever for a clean-up and it shows our commitment to improving management of the environment.”
The mine opened in 1967 to extract metals, including copper, lead and zinc, but it was abandoned in 1975.
Left behind were waste rock and ore dumps, tailings and the ruins of the mine workings. These leached heavy metals and acid into the Tui and Tunakohoia Streams. In addition, there was a risk the tailings mass would liquefy in an earthquake or fail in an extreme weather event and flow down the mountain.
Since the clean-up began, the tailings dam has been stabilised and 110,000 cubic metres of old mine tailings have been treated and stabilised.
The water quality of the Tunakohoia stream has improved and there is no longer a threat to human health.
The on-going monitoring and maintenance of the Tui Mine will lie with the Department of Conservation and Matamata-Piako District Council.
The site will initially be covered in grass, and then shrubs, until it is eventually left to naturally regenerate.
Ms Adams thanked the Waikato Regional Council, Matamata Piako District Council, the Department of Conservation, local Iwi and the community for their support and involvement in the project.
“I also want to acknowledge constituency MPs Lindsay Tisch and Scott Simpson who have both been strong advocates for getting this problem fixed, and the Green Party which has worked with us on these issues under our memorandum of understanding.”
Cleaning up New Zealand’s contaminated sites is a priority for the Government. Since 2008, more than $28 million has been invested to clean up contaminated sites throughout New Zealand. As well as Tui Mine, this also includes the Patea Freezing Works, Minginui sawmill and dump, and the Waiwhetu Stream.