Aussie listed junior Silver City Minerals, disheartened by a Maori land investment company blocking any exploration work on an epithermal gold-silver prospect in the Taupo Volcanic Belt, is withdrawing from its only current New Zealand project.
However, it may return to concentrate on the South Island where Mainlanders seem more aware of the economic and regional benefits of well run, low impact minerals projects, says Silver City Minerals (SCM) managing director Chris Torrey.
“In New Zealand current legislation gives enormous power to landowners, effectively giving them de facto control of the resources even though they are Crown minerals owned by the government,” he says.
“And there is no provision for arbitration or adjudication for minerals as there is for oil and gas.”
He says SCM, a base and precious metal explorer focused on the Broken Hill District of western New South Wales, spent a considerable amount of time with the board of regional landowner Maori Investments (MIL) late last year, including making presentations and field visits, explaining the nature of the proposed low impact exploration on its Goldmine Hill prospect near Rotorua, even offering a partnership to MIL.
“This [initial exploration] could have proved an amazing find … we are talking about an operation that would have had a very small [environmental] footprint, an underground operation, not an opencast mine.”
But early in 2016, MIL rejected this proposal, refusing SCM access to the land concerned and requesting no further correspondence.
“They are very conservative, represent about 500 landowners from different iwi, and derive most of their income from forestry operations on their leased land … they have a fundamental objection to mining.
“It’s going to be difficult for me to convince my board to go back into New Zealand but I’m not totally discouraged … the South Island has a lot more to offer and I’ll be looking at possible joint ventures there but with a land access agreement in place beforehand.
“More NZ exploration is still doable,” says Torrey, a Kiwi.
He adds that Sydney headquartered SVC, the only explorer to take up an epithermal gold-silver prospect in the Taupo Volcanic Belt offered by the government about three years ago, is now formally withdrawing from the Golden Hill project.
By Neil Ritchie.