A proposed expansion of the country’s biggest goldmine would kill thousands of protected lizards, the Department of Conservation (DOC) says.
Company, Oceana Gold, has proposed an extension to the Macraes mine, in East Otago.
The expansion would create a new 63ha mine pit, called Coronation North.
It would add three years to the life of the 25-year-old mine, which has pumped billions of dollars into the Otago economy since it opened.
The company needs resource consent from the Otago Regional Council, the Waitaki District Council and the Dunedin City Council for the expansion to go ahead.
DOC technical adviser Lynn Adams said the new mining zone would destroy the seven species of lizards that lived there, including the rare Otago gecko and southern grass skink.
Ms Adams said there was no way to shift the lizards, and their reaction to bulldozers would be to run and hide.