OceanaGold says it is not leaving the Buller district despite closing its big open cast gold mine in Reefton earlier than expected.
The process of mothballing the Reefton Gold Mine will start in 2015, two years earlier than previously indicated by its Australian-Canadian owner, due to the falling price of gold.
Buller District mayor Pat McManus said on Saturday the mine accounted for about 250 jobs in the Reefton area and news of its earlier closure was a bombshell.
OceanaGold, which says the mine has pumped $45 million into the West Coast economy since mining resumed in 2006, insists it is not giving up on the region.
It says teams are evaluating the feasibility of an underground project beneath part of the existing open cast mine and a technical study is underway into gold deposits in nearby Blackwater.