An Australian mining company prospecting for gold in Northland is rejecting protesters' claims it has been drilling under Department of Conservation (DOC) land.
Minewatch Northland had accused Evolution Mining of drilling directly under conservation land on Puhipuhi mountain, north of Whangarei, and drilling for core samples away from the company's base on private land.
Evolution Mining's geologist in Whangarei, Jackie Hobbins, said it was standard practice to drill on an angle when looking for vertical seams - in this case, quartz veins.
The land in question was Crown land leased to commercial forester Rayonnier, not DOC land as the protesters claimed, Ms Hobbins said.
The land was included in the company's exploration license area, she said.
The protesters were trespassing on private farmland, and Evolution was referring the matter to the police, she said.