“The people who gain are outsiders”

3 Sep

This is the first in our series of posts featuring oral submissions made in the Mangatangi Mine hearings.


Noel Hair was the first to speak in opposition to the mine at the resource consent hearings this week. He made an impassioned plea for commissioners to reject the application by Fonterra’s subsidiary Glencoal for an open cast coal mine – giving a submission which stirred up an audience half-buried under the weight of the technical information presented by the company’s experts.

Noel has been living and farming in the local area for the past 33 years, 28 of those years on Bell Road, which adjoins the proposed mine site. He raised a number of concerns based on his in-depth knowledge of the local landscape and weather patterns.

Next post in the series

Noel Hair with a photo of the view from an earlier Bell Rd property

Noel Hair with a photo of the view from an earlier Bell Rd property

Effect of mining on localised weather patterns

From a previous property in Bell Road, Noel looked out over the Kopako Mines and has observed the impact of mining activities on local weather:

  • When the vegetation is removed off the mine site, ground temperatures will rise on the bare ground causing air to rise upward and drawing dust into higher layers of the atmosphere.
  • At times he has seen it rise to over 200 metres straight up and then disperse in different directions.
  • This means dust will be carried further than the experts predict.
  •  Showers that move slowly across this site also can be pushed over by hot air rising, creating a drier climate in the immediate area in summer.
Arrows over the Kopako Mines area show where Noel Hair has observed rising dust columns

Arrows over the Kopako Mines area show where Noel Hair has observed rising dust columns

Inaccuracies in Glencoal’s wind analysis

Glencoal’s experts had based their calculations of the likely effects of mine dust on the assumption that the prevailing wind was from the south-west. Noel noted that:

  • The wind readings were taken in a drought year, which therefore had more south-westerlies than normal.
  • South-westerly winds may be predominant in spring, but this is by no means where the wind comes from all the time.
  • Winds tend to follow the along the ranges in either an easterly or westerly direction.

Therefore, Glencoal’s prediction of which homes would be most affected by mine dust may not prove to be accurate.

De-watering effects of the mine

Noel’s property shares a hill with the proposed mine site. He says,

When the proposed mine is dewatered this will have a major affect on my property as it is very hard to reduce ground water levels on one side of a hill and not the other when they are effectively joined by way of topography.

Noel Hair's property on Bell Road. The trees on the ridge line indicate the hill that is shared with the proposed mine site.

Noel Hair’s property on Bell Road. The trees on the ridge line indicate the hill that is shared with the proposed mine site.

He is also concerned that the de-watering activities at the mine will reduce his property’s ability to retain groundwater. In the winter months farms build up ground water levels which in early summer help extend their growing capability.

An existing bore on his property will end up being 60 feet above the floor of the mine pit, leading to unknown consequences, however, to date none of the company’s experts has visited his site to check how he will be effected.

At the same time, the mine is at a high-risk of not being able to contain flash flood events.

Property values, drinking water and traffic hazards

The prospect of having an open cast coal mine next door, raises a whole host of concerns for Noel and other local residents. In particular:

  • Property values are dropping as potential buyers do not wish to be next door to a coal mine.
  • Many of the locals collect rain water from their roofs for household use. They are concerned this will no longer be safe to drink due to coal and other mine dust.
  • The hazards from an increase in heavy trucks and other mine machinery.

In Noel’s words:

When the highway shifted, we all breathed a sigh of relief as it meant the local kids could use the road again. I do hope no one gets killed as a result of extra big trucks and trailers roaring up and down the road in Mangatwhiri.

The people who gain are outsiders

Noel concludes by pointing out that locals are “caught up in an unwanted development” of which they will bear all the costs, while enjoying none of the benefits.

I do not believe the benefits outweigh harm that will be caused to this community. The fact is that Fonterra / Glencoal do have other options but chose not to expand on them. All the above effects will impact and change my life on this property as I know it.  There will be constant dust, noise, inconvenience, and health impacts being only 150 metres away from this large project that will make other parties rich. And no gain for me or my family or community.

I wake each day and feel ill knowing the truth of what is planned.

The people who gain are outsiders.

Next post in the series

One Response to ““The people who gain are outsiders””


  1. “A neighbour does not dig an open-cast fossil fuel pit on your back door” | auckland coal action - 06/09/2013

    […] Previous post in the series […]

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