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Govt announces mining plans

Published: 2:57PM Monday March 22, 2010 Source: NZPA/Newstalk ZB

The government on Monday announced a proposal to open 7058 hectares of protected conservation land for mining - a figure leaked last week by Forest and Bird.

The conservation society was also correct in assuming the government also planned to give a further 12,000 ha protected schedule four status as mitigation.

The government last year carried out a stocktake of minerals in the conservation estate and signalled - amid storms of controversy - that it planned taking "significant" areas out of schedule four in the Crown Minerals Act, paving the way for access to valuable minerals.

Information released by the government to media on Monday afternoon says the areas proposed to be removed from schedule four include parts of the Coromandel Peninsula, Great Barrier Island, and parts of Paparoa National Park on the West Coast.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee says about $4 million will be invested over the next nine months to gather information on "highly prospective non-schedule four areas" such as Northland, parts of Coromandel, Paparoa National Park and parts of Stewart Island.

The amount it intends to add to schedule four totals 12,400 ha.

The Forest and Bird Society says that figure only refers to areas that have been already waiting for official protection since the last review in 2008.

"They should not be seen as trade-offs for high value conservation land being removed from schedule four, because none of the (12,400ha) has significant mining potential," says the society's advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell.

Brownlee says the area intends to be opened for mining totalled 0.2% of the Crown's conservation estate.

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson says any mining on conservation land is subject to strict environmental tests.

"It has been made clear that any future mining applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis and conservation and environmental management remain a key consideration," she says.

There is plenty of room for the public to debate the conservation values and economic potential of the areas in question, Wilkinson says.

Brownlee says the government is meeting a challenge to increase New Zealand's exports with rare metals which are in great demand internationally, and will be for many years.

"We can muddle along as we are, or we can set our sights higher," he says.

"Developing a tiny portion of New Zealand's mineral wealth will have a huge impact.

Brownlee says 7058ha represented 0.026% of total land, and the proposals amounted to land the size of a postcard on Eden Park.

He says it is estimated that minerals which could be taken out of the land proposed to be removed from schedule four was about $60 billion, but that depended on how much actual mining interest there was in extracting it.

Wilkinson says the government also proposed creating a conservation fund based on a portion of future royalties from mining in public conservation areas.

"The budget for the fund would be 50 percent of royalty revenue from minerals (other than petroleum) from public conservation areas, with a minimum of $2 million per annum for the first four years and a maximum of $10 million per annum."

Final recommendations will go to Cabinet before decisions were made in the middle of the year.

Submissions on the proposals close at 5pm on May 4.

Labour blasts the proposal

Labour Leader Phil Goff says the government's actions are wrong and he believes there is worse to come.

He says all the areas they are planning to dig up, a National Government once protected.

What do you think about the government's plans? Have your say on the messageboard below.

 

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  • menacerec said on 2010-07-24 @ 00:53 NZDT: Report abusive post

    John needs the boot... not just for this either.

  • menacerec said on 2010-07-24 @ 00:49 NZDT: Report abusive post

    No hawthorne, what National have done is gone back on multiple significant election promises. Their economic policies have already shown to correlate with increases in income inequality. They are increasing our debt in order to give the upper 5% of earners the greatest tax cuts, although 75% of the population is hardly left with enough to live on. They are further cutting the rights of workers in favour of big businesses, their true agenda is quite clear.

  • irwin said on 2010-07-21 @ 11:05 NZDT: Report abusive post

    The protest actions taken by my fellow NZers and the governments decision not to proceed with the mining on DOC land makes me very proud to be a Kiwi. This is democracy at its finest and those people who say the government should never investigated it in the first place have lost the plot. The people have spoken and the government has listened. Great.

  • ukustarmitch said on 2010-07-21 @ 10:01 NZDT: Report abusive post

    HAHAHA this is too funny. How dare they consider destroying our beautiful landscape! National, you did the right thing, but don't expect me to vote for you in next years election

  • SantaCruz66 said on 2010-07-21 @ 08:54 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Simply a matter of matter that Gerry doesn't want to mine what he can't walk around. 50k kiwis marched because Gerry et al missed the point. Good democracy for sure but political ineptitude and appalling stewardship - all Gerry had to do was announce it the conference and he would have been fine :)

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