TAILINGS AT THE THAMES.
The outcry against the deposit of tailings in the river channels is still being steadily kept up in tho Thames district, and a letter on the subject which appears in our correspondence columns today is very much to the point. Most people will agree that the opinion of the superintendent of the Waihi mine on this question is hardly likely to be unbiased and impartial. But as a matter of fact, as our correspondent points out, Mr. Barry's report contains some most important concessions to the other side. We draw special attention to the remark about "the large extent of agricultural land stretching from the Thames River to the hills on one side and to the Piako River on the other." It is encouraging to learn on such reliable authority that there is a large extent of agricultural land in the Thames valley, and that it does not consist of the "few inferior acres," which the " New Zealand Herald" recently ' located there. As Mr. Barry himself estimates the vtilue of some of the land on the Upper Thames already injured by tailings at £20 an acre, the damage already done must be, as Mr Whitmore says, much nearer £50,000 than £500. Naturally, Mr. Barry is optimistic about the future; but we can hardty imagine that he expects us to take seriously the astonishing statement that " millions of tons a year of artificially added silt would make no difference " to the level of the rivers. If statements of this sort are the best that the mining companies can do in the way of defending themselves, they will do wisely to say nothing more about the matter. But the people in the Thames district will not be satisfied to let the question rest, nor will the general public. The interests at stake are far too important to justify us in Jetting such a case as this go by default. We have frequently published evidence which proves inconte3tably that the rivers in the district are being positively blocked and rendered innavigable by the accumulation of tailings, and that immense damage has been done, and still more serious loss is threatened, by the backingup of the streams, the consequent disastrous floods, and the deposit of tailing 3 over the adjacent land. The settlers in the district have a right to protection against losses thus incurred, and the people of the Dominion have a fight to insist that national assets such as our navigable rivers and our cultivable soil shall not be absolutely destroyed for the benefit of private individuals or
corporate bodies. There is no question of atacking, the rights of the mining companies, nor is the Minister for Mines in the least likely to sympathise with any policy that would damage one of our most impoi-tant industries. But it is not to the interest of the Dominion or its people that agricultural and pastoral districts, possessing measureless potentialities of wealth,'should be permanently injured or destroyed, so as - to secure a little additional gain for industries that are in themselves of an essentially temporary and transient character. The same sort of difficulty has arisen in Otago, aud we are glad to see that the Dunedin papers, while insisting that the rights of the dredging companies must be protected, are protesting vigorously against the destruction of thousands of acres 'of valuable' land in Central Otago through the deposit of mining debris upon them. The question is, as we have said, one of truly national importance, and even if Mr. Barry is correct in his estimate that it would cost the companies 5/- a ton to stack their tailing*, we believe that the people of New Zealand would rather see mining dividends reduced than settlers ruined, rivers choked, and large areas of valuable country hopelessly and irretrievably destroyed.
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