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Environmental clean up

Abandoned in 1973 after extracting copper, lead and zinc sulphides, the mine was once considered to be New Zealand’s most contaminated site and it leached heavy metals into two streams. There was also a risk that the tailings dam would collapse in an extreme weather event or earthquake, sending up to 90,000 cubic metres of mine waste toward the Waikato town of Te Aroha.

Cabinet agreed funding for a feasibility study in 2003 to address the contamination at the mine. Following the study, Waikato Regional Council led the project to fix the mine. The remediation works were successfully completed in 2013 and the site was handed back to the Department of Conservation and Matamata-Piako District Council for ongoing monitoring and maintenance. Iwi were integral to ensure the work would restore the mountain physically, spiritually and culturally. The work has improved the water quality of the Tunakohoia stream and it no longer poses a threat to human health.

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.

Photo supplied by Waikato Regional Council.

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