By Adam Hollingworth
Reporter 3 News
Thursday 28 Nov 2013 6:17p.m.
Northland motorists experienced severe delays today as anti-mining protesters closed State Highway 1 north of Whangarei.
The protest forced police to set up a diversion and not all motorists were happy.
At 10am today the protestors formed a line across SH1.
“We are just inconveniencing people because they are taking a detour and it’s taking them another 20 minutes or so, and it’s on a narrow country road so the big logging type trucks, they won’t be too happy but they can get through,” said protest organiser Jenny Kirk.
The demonstration lasted for two hours with motorists being re-directed on a 28 kilometre detour.
“It’s a pain in the backside because it’s a narrow twisty road and it’s really hard to move, bloody arseholes,” said one truck driver.
Iwi and other local residents were protesting against the proposed drilling for gold and silver by Australian company De Grey.
They say it could disturb mercury deposits in the hills, releasing them into waterways and jeopardising fish stocks. “It’s happened before when the Whangarei District Council dug up the metal for road metal, and when it rained the mercury leaked into the vegetation on the side and the cows got sick and the vegetation died,” said Ms Kirk.
The mining permits are for only minimal disturbance and, unlike for oil and gas exploration, private property owners can refuse access to their land.
The protestors will be drawing hope from a similar protest over Kauri mountain at Whangarei Heads, which forced Hauraki Gold to pull the plug on a mining permit last week.