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Central Otago has a long history in the development and use of electrical energy for mineral recovery, domestic and industrial purposes. New Zealand's first electrically driven industrial plant, the world's first electrically powered dredge, and the first AC powered dredge were all located in the Central region.

Over the years small hydro electric power schemes were developed frequently in cooperation with gold mining/dredging and irrigation. These schemes provided the only source of electrical energy in the area until connection to the national grid in 1955. The Roxburgh Hydro Dam, capacity 320MW, began generating for the national grid in 1962 and the Clyde Dam, capacity 432MW, was brought on line in 1992.


The goldmining era is by no means over in Otago. Sites of old gold rushes, such as the Clutha and Cardrona River beds, are offering up new riches to mining companies. Many gold prospectors and miners continue to operate on a smaller scale on the gold bearing rivers of Otago.

Modern mining technology is being used elsewhere in Otago. The largest scale operation near Macraes Flat and has a throughput of 3 million tonnes of ore each year, and produces more than 100,000 ounces of gold. Other large-scale operations are planned or being carried out at Island Block, Earnscleugh, and in the Carrick. But the mining legacy of today is not like in the early days. Meticulous rehabilitation is now carried out to restore the land often in a more productive state than when mining began.

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