13 Oct 2020

Protesters shut down mine near Huntly

7:40 pm on 13 October 2020

Thirteen people were arrested today after anti-mining protesters shut-down work at the Rotowaro open-cast coal mine, near Huntly in North Waikato.

Two protesters outside the Rotowaro open-cast coal mine near Huntly.

Photo: Supplied

Police say 11 were arrested for wilful trespass while another two were taken into the Huntly station for obstructing police.

The group was warned for trespassing and released.

Activists representing several environmental protest groups, including Extinction Rebellion, Coal Action, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining and Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki chained themselves to the main gates.

Spokesperson Felix Hoornaert said the coalition was due to protest at a Minerals Forum planned for Hamilton today, but when that was cancelled, the focus moved towards the mine, which is jointly owned by Bathurst Resources and Talleys Energy.

He said protesters arrived at the gates at 7am.

"We have started at the gates around the main offices and the [mining] activity shut down and then we kind of extended to few extra gates around the site. We are currently occupying four different gates and we greatly impacted operations of the mine today."

He said there were just over 30 activists protesting which is expected to last all day.

Hornet said police had turned up but were not communicating with them directly.

The coalition wanted to send a signal that companies like Bathhurst did not have the public's best interests at heart, he said.

"They are only acting in their own agenda and with their own profit in mind, while they are actually jeopardising our future when they do that."

He said the goal was to permanently shut down all mining in New Zealand.

"We want [Bathurst] to recognise that and start a conversation and not pretend business as usual can continue."

Bathurst Resources Limited chief executive Richard Tacon said they were concerned for the safety of "the trespassers".

"We closed down site activities this morning to reduce risk to the trespassers and to our workforce.

''We appreciate the assistance of the New Zealand Police in ensuring the ongoing safety of all concerned. The site is expected to return to normal lawful activities this afternoon."

Police said some protesters had been arrested after some members of the group chained themselves to an internal gate within the mine, blocking access.

They have been removed from the area.

In a statement police said: "While police recognise the lawful right to protest, our priority is to ensure safety and uphold the law. In this instance it has not been safe for the protesters to be in this area.

"Police will remain at the site and will continue to respond appropriately to any issues that may arise".

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