Central Otago gold discovery worth "$325 million a year"
Australian Stock Exchange-listed company Santana Minerals is telling its investors, swathes of high-grade gold could rest beneath the remote farmland between the Bendigo and Dunstan Ranges in Central Otago.
The Rise and Shine site, as part of the company's 272sq-km Bendigo-Ophir Project near Cromwell, was marketed in an investor package this week as "the most significant single gold discovery in New Zealand in four decades".
It is estimated the site could yield between 100,000 to 150,000 ounces of gold each year - which would equate to a minimum of $325 million a year under current gold pricing.
But it is still early days, with the mining permit pending and the resource consent application yet to be filed.
"There is more gold in them there hills, as they say," said chief executive Damian Spring, of Arrowtown.
"It's all come about because of the hard work and of course, good luck."
Spring said the development would boost the local economy by providing more local jobs.
"A lot of that gold that's produced will mean that we're spending a lot of that money on salaries and wages in the region," he said.
"As part of our technical studies this year, we'll try and start defining the numbers of people likely to be employed, the services we're likely to engage locally and ultimately the value of those services and wages and salaries. And of course, there will be taxes and royalties that will also flow back into the economy.
"So I think based on those sorts of numbers, broadly speaking, that this will be a project of regional significance and potentially national significance."
Spring said it aimed to have the resource consent application lodged with the Central Otago District Council and the Otago Regional Council by the end of 2024 - with environmental testing, feasibility and community consultation with groups like tangata whenua still to be carried out.
The investor package described the government as "pro-mining" - and Spring said the repeal of the Natural and Built Environment Act in December allowed it to progress with certainty under known Resource Management Act processes.
It also showed mining agreements had been reached with landowners at Bendigo Station, Ardgour Station and Matakanui Station.
In 2020, Santana Minerals bought Matakanui Gold, which had exploration permits at Bendigo-Ophir, and drilling and infill drilling continued in 2021.
Alluvial or gold-loose particles were first discovered at Bendigo during the Central Otago gold rush in 1862.