Miner’s Monthly: May 2023

Strong turnout for West Coast Minerals forum in Westport

About 170 delegates attended the 2023 West Coast Minerals Forum at the Westport’s NBS Theatre in mid-may. Forum delegates heard about the latest developments in mining on the West Coast.

Minerals West Coast chairman, Richard Tacon, chaired a panel discussion on why people are still mining and investing in mining on the West Coast and elsewhere in New Zealand. Panelists included Simon Delander of Federation Mining, Jayde van Dissel from Elect Mining, Steph Hayton of OceanaGold, Damian Spring from Santana Minerals, and Ray Mudgway of Westland Mineral Sands.


Attendants of West Coast Minerals Forum: 2023 at NBS Theatre Westport.
Panelists from left to right: Simon Delander, Jayde van Dissel, Steph Hayton, Ray Mudgway, Damian Spring.

Following the keynote panel discussion forum attendants heard from both Ray Mudgway, managing director of Westland Mineral Sands, and Robert Brand, managing director of TiGa Minerals and Metals about each of their respective mineral sand mining ventures.

Westland Mineral Sands has established mining operations at Tauranga Bay near Westport, and TiGa Minerals and Metals is working to secure resource consents for its planned mining operations near Barrytown.

Mineral sand mining at Westland Mineral Sands's mine site near Tauranga Bay.

Following on from morning tea and through to lunchtime the focus was very much on gold exploration in the Reefton gold field. Lucy Smith of Terra Firma Mining spoke about plans to reestablish mining at Mt Baldy in the Maruia Valley. Mark McCulloch of Siren Gold and Jamie Cudby of Reefton Gold both gave insights into the nature of looking for gold deposits in the mountains around Reefton. Jackie Bock of Federation Mining told showed attendants what it’s like to be working at the cutting edge of the company’s work to reopen mining operations of the Birthday Reef beneath Waiuta.

Lucy Smith explains the location of Terra Firma's proposed mining operations in Maruia to the West Coast Minerals Forum 2023 attendants.
Jamie Cudby explains her work as an exploration geologist for Reefton Gold.

After lunch, the focus was on health and safety and mine closure. Eden Sinclair spoke about his work and Bathurst Resources’ closure of its Canterbury Coal operations, and Megan Williams spoke about OceanaGold’s establishment of its tailings storage facility at the former Globe-Progress Mine in Victoria Forest Park. Sam Curtis of SGS NZ presented on the importance of occupational hygiene systems.


Hugh McMillan of SGS NZ chaired the afternoon panel discussing research and development breakthroughs needed to ensure mining is safe, economic, and environmentally sustainable in the afternoon.

Panelists included Robert Brand of TiGa Minerals and Metals, Fiona Bartier of Bathurst Resources, Mike Meehan of New Zealand Institute for Minerals to Materials Research, and Kerry Gordon of Verum Group.

Hugh McMillan chairs the afternoon panel. Panelists, left to right: Robert Brand, Fiona Bartier, Mike Meehan, and Kerry Gordon.

Following the afternoon panel attendants heard from Mike Meehan of the New Zealand Institute for Minerals to Materials Research on the institute’s work commercialising the production of carbon foams from West Coast coals, and the establishment of a gold refinery on the West Coast which will produce certified ethical gold.

Rob Boyd of Bathurst Resources delivered a presentation on the use of West Coast coking coals in steel production offshore, which can achieve emissions reductions compared with using other coals.

The final presentation of the day came from Josie Vidal of Straterra, who gave attendants an update and forecast on politics at a central government level, policies under development and how they may impact the minerals sector, and what to expect from this year’s general election. 

Following on from the forum dinner and drinks were held at Club Buller (the Buller Workingmen’s Club) which was a great way to cap off the days events and allowed attendants the opportunity to socialise. Responsibly.

Changes of trustees and other matters arising from AGM

Minerals West Coast’s annual general meeting was held immediately after the day’s forum, with some trustees stepping down and others taking their place. Annual accounts were presented to members (available here) and calls for any resignations of existing trustees wishing to step down and new trustees seeking nomination were called for.

Dave Stone and Brett Cummings have both stood down in their capacity as trustees of Minerals West Coast. Mike Meehan and Duncan Ross have both joined the trust board.

As a result, Minerals West Coast’s are now as follows:

  • Richard Tacon, Bathurst Resources, chair
  • Peter Haddock, Mill Creek Mining, trustee
  • Peter Sullivan, Tai Poutini Polytechnic, trustee
  • Geoffrey Jacobs, Paramount Mining, trustee
  • Glenys Perkins, Tailored Energy Solutions, trustee
  • Lincoln Smith, Terra Firma Mining, trustee
  • Pat Cooper, Cooper’s Drilling Services, trustee
  • Mike Meehan, New Zealand Institute for Minerals to Materials Research, trustee
  • Duncan Ross, Rosco Contractors, trustee

Mine visits to Westland Mineral Sands and Stockton following forum

On Thursday the 18th of May (the day following the forum) Westland Mineral Sands and Bathurst Resources hosted visitors to their respective mining operations in the Buller as part of mine visits organised by Minerals West Coast.

OutWest Tours, owned and operated by Mickey and Doreen Ryan provided transport to visit the mining of heavy mineral sands at Tauranga Bay, the soon to be developed facilities at the port of Westport, and later in the day Bathurst Resources Stockton Mine, which produces coal for export to steel producers in offshore markets.

Ray Mudgway, Westland Mineral Sands, explaining the logistics of exporting heavy mineral sands via the port of Westport.
Heavy mineral sand mining at Tauranga Bay, with processing plant pictured in background.
Coal mining operations at Stockton Mine.
Mine visitors and OutWest Tours Unimog at viewing platform.

The visits to mine sites were of immense value to all of those who made the trips in the unimogs (about 30-35 people in total) and gave an appreciation of what’s underway at one of the West Coast’s newest mining operations, as well as one of the most longstanding. Minerals West Coast is very grateful to both Westland Mineral Sands and Bathurst Resources for the hospitality at both mine sites.

The importance of access to land and access to capital: 1News

Prospecting and exploration work being carried out in New Zealand by Mineralogy, owned by Australian miner, Clive Palmer, has attracted public and media interest in relation to the issue of mining on public conservation land.

Minerals West Coast’s manager, Patrick Phelps, spoke with 1News reporter Cushla Norman on this issue in May. The interview can be viewed above, or watched on 1News’s website by clicking here.

Coverage of 'West Coast gold boom' in the Press

An article published in the Press in the Press in late May, based on presentations at the West Coast Minerals Forum 2023. gives some indepth coverage of current efforts to find gold deposits in and around the Reefton Goldfields, and also broaches the subject of mining on public conservation land.

The full article on the Press’s website can be found by clicking here.

New website for Minerals West Coast

The observant reader of this newsletter may have noticed Minerals West Coast’s website looks a bit different. Previously found at www.mineralswestcoast.com, it’s now found at www.mineralswestcoast.org.nz

In addition the content and virtually everything else has been changed and updated to ensure the information on the site for anyone wishing to know a bit about mining on the West Coast and in general terms can find the information they need to find.

It’s still something of a work in progress but if anyone reading this would like to bring any spelling mistakes, errors, or any other things that want fixed to the attention of somebody who may actually do something about it, please contact Minerals West Coast’s manager, Patrick Phelps, via email at patrick@mineralswestcoast.org.nz if you have any feedback.