An Australian mining company says people objecting to its prospecting plans are misleading the public with outrageous claims.
De Grey Mining plans to start test-drilling for gold next month in the Puhipuhi hills near Whangarei.
But Ngapuhi, backed by the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, said that could release mercury, a toxic metal, into waterways, and has warned the company to stay away.
De Grey Mining chairman Peter Batten said drilling core samples can't release mercury into the environment.
Mr Batten said other companies have drilled at 50 sites at Puhipuhi in the past with no adverse effects.