Brownlee still spouting the same garbage on mining

Written By: - Date published: 12:23 pm, April 6th, 2010 - 28 comments
Categories: Conservation, Environment, Mining - Tags:

From your inner-spring mattress to your car (or even your bike), computer, cellphone and medical equipment; the activities that make up our day and enhance our lives are in most cases only possible because someone, somewhere, has mined something.

We’re not against all mining everywhere. And, last time I checked, my bed springs weren’t made from coal or gold.

Mining is an emotive issue and it’s important we have a mature and considered debate. That debate should include a discussion about the economic benefits.

Fine. We all support having information on the table eh? So, how much will mining on these areas contribute to the economy, Gerry?

Mining in 2008 was a $2 billion industry and contributed $1.1 billion to exports. Including oil and gas, the mining industry employs around 6000 people – and those jobs are highly productive and highly paid, relative to other sectors of the economy.

So mining is just over 1% of GDP but provides less than 0.3% of employment and (Brownlee doesn’t mention this) only 0.6% of wages. Yes, miners are well paid – they are fully-unionised – but workers get a relatively small cut of the fruits of mining. And you still haven’t answered the question: how much will mining on these areas contribute to the economy, Gerry?

Mining is an important part of regional economies such as the West Coast and the Coromandel.

And we’re not talking about closing down existing or preventing mining on the vast majority of New Zealand which is outside the protection of Schedule 4. How much will mining on these areas contribute to the economy, Gerry?

But the economic return on that land is many times greater than any sheep, beef or dairy farm.

We’re not talking about mining sheep farms. We’re talking about mining conservation areas that have been specifically set aside not to be mined. How much will mining on these areas contribute to the economy, Gerry?

It’s worth noting that mining already takes place on conservation land in New Zealand. There are 82 mines operating on conservation land and 118 permits for mining are at present active over conservation land.

Yup. Because this issue isn’t about all mining. It’s about mining on land that was specifically set aside to not be mined upon because of its natural value.

The average ownership structure of resources companies listed on the NZX is 57 per cent New Zealand and 43 per cent overseas ownership.

That average is unweighted. The small companies are mostly NZ-owned. The big ones, that do the actual mining, are foreign-owned with the exception of Solid Energy.

Mines in New Zealand are subject to strict environmental tests. The higher the conservation value of the land concerned, the stricter the test. That fact will rule out open-cast mines on Schedule Four land.

But open-cast is exactly what Solid Energy wants to do in Paparoa. Open-cast is how rare earths are mined and it’s the only economical way to mine low density deposits of gold and silver. Even with an underground mine, gold and silver still leaves millions of tonnes of contaminated tailings. And coal contributes to climate change.

Some have also argued that mining puts New Zealand’s clean and green image at risk and that tourism may be affected. But the Government is proposing only a small increase in mining activity for quite large economic gain.

What will that economic gain be, Gerry? And what will the cost to tourism be? Oh, right. You don’t have numbers for either of these crucial questions. In fact, you haven’t even bothered to try to find out.

Tourism numbers rose between 2000 and 2008 while the mining sector grew and mining permits were issued for conservation land.

Not on Schedule 4 land.

The Government believes a small increase in responsible mining could contribute to our goal of improving the economy’s performance and providing high-value jobs.

How much would it contribute to that so far not even remotely achieved goal? Oh, right, you have no idea.

The Government is trying to frame this as a debate between ’emotional’ environmentalists and ‘sensible’ people who want to build the economy. The reality, however, is that the Government has supplied no economic argument for allowing mining in these areas. It doesn’t know what is there. It doesn’t know the economics of extracting it. It doesn’t know what benefits would flow to New Zealand. It doesn’t know what costs we would bear in terms of environmental damage and lost tourism.

How are we meant to rationally weigh the costs and benefits of mining on protected land when the government has no clue what they are?

This is not an economic argument. It is dig and pray.

28 comments on “Brownlee still spouting the same garbage on mining”

  1. mcflock 1

    .. and pray that the tourist industry doesn’t suffer from our most recent environmental record

  2. Mark 2

    Another excellent piece of analysis from The Standard. Thank you.

    You’ve certainly nailed the Govt Spin in one sentence: “The Government is trying to frame this as a debate between ‘emotional’ environmentalists and ‘sensible’ people who want to build the economy.”

    If any readers are interested, please visit our Facebook Group and we can be found on Twitter @ChildrenOfTane.

    Thanks for the post, Marty. I’ve been sending out links to your mining posts via Twitter and will continue to do so.


  3. tc 3

    When the msm simply parrots what you say as if it’s fact and parliamant not sitting till 20/4 there’s an opportunity by browncoal and cronies to advance their causes over the next few weeks via their soapboxes like TVNZ/Herald etc.

    Watch out for basher and others taking advantage over the next few weeks by using the msm who re-produce without applying any logic or intellect (be it leaked or supplied through normal channels)… it’s not employed anymore.

    Makes for great propaganda to feed parents holidaying with the kids.

  4. Mark 4

    Great post, Marty. The Standard is doing a fantastic job debunking the National Party’s spin on mining.

    Readers might be interested in joining our Facebook Group
    and we can also be found on Twitter @ChildrenOfTane

    Marty, I’ve been sending out links to all your articles on mining via Twitter.

    Thanks again to The Standard.


  5. Fisiani 5

    On the one hand you have the ‘drill baby drill” exponents.
    On the other you have the “mining is like raping” exponents.
    In the middle you have stocktaking, rational assessment and perhaps modern surgical mining in carefully selected sites with environmental protections and safeguards. Sounds like Gerry (Salad Dodger) Brownlee truly understands that you can have your cake and eat it. You can have a National Park above the land and a mine below it. Cannot remember which mine recently had a tourist information site opened at it. Perhaps someone can advise. ie proof that mining and tourism can and do happily co-exist like they do in every country. You cannot have cellphones and other modern technology without precious and rare metal mining. You can have mining of such metals in a tiny corner of pristine land that is not visible from any highway and surrounded by forest and it will still be pristine but very profitable land. NZ needs to get out of the 5 year long exporting sector recession as soon as possible,. This tentative toe poke into possible mining should be applauded.

    • On the one hand you have the Nazis who killed 6 million jews during WOrld War 2.
      On the other hand you had the allies who said this was wrong.
      In the middle you have perhaps a compromise position where only 3 million are killed after a rational assessment and perhaps using modern surgical techniques.

      Are you being serious?.

    • ianmac 5.2

      Gerry Salad Dodger Brownlee. Great 🙂

    • Richard 5.3

      Land is not listed in Schedule 4 by accident. Nor is land listed in Schedule 4 land for some nebulous “green” reason. Schedule 4 conservation land, is conservation land where it has been explicitly assessed that the conservation value of the land would be destroyed by mining. That’s what Schedule 4 means.

      The argument is not about whether mining is good or bad. The argument is not even about whether mining on some conservation land is possible. Mining can be “good”. It’s even entirely possible for an argument to made that *some* conservation land can be sacrificed for mining profit. However, the argument has already been made that Schedule 4 land cannot be mined. To repeat, that is why it is listed in Schedule 4.

    • Richard 5.4

      Cannot remember which mine recently had a tourist information site opened at it. Perhaps someone can advise. ie proof that mining and tourism can and do happily co-exist like they do in every country.

      Disneyland has a “tourist information site” too. Does that make Disneyland a conservation site?

    • Daveosaurus 5.5

      “On the one hand you have the ‘drill baby drill’ exponents.”

      Sounds like National policy.

      “On the other you have the “mining is like raping’ exponents.”

      Sounds like Green policy.

      “In the middle you have stocktaking, rational assessment and perhaps modern surgical mining in carefully selected sites with environmental protections and safeguards”

      Sounds like Labour policy. So, what’s your problem with Labour, again?

  6. JM 6

    It seems to me there may be a bit of a con going on. How do NZ mining companies make money? Not by mining but by getting hold of exploration licences over areas; doing the minimal amount of work to make the area look prospective; then flogging these exploration licenses off to real mining companies for large profit. It would be interesting to see how much territory the mining lobbyists are currently holding. With all the publicity plus the government investing in additional exploration, looks to me like someone is going to do very well. Browlee seems to be ignorant of what goes on in the NZ mining industry. He also does not seem to realise that most of the Australian mineral deposits were formed under geological conditions different from those that gave rise to NZ and as a result there is not the large scale mineralisation present here that there is in Australia. Yes there are bits and pieces. But the geology does not support the scale of deposit that has made Australia so mineral-rich.

    • Richard 6.1

      …But the geology does not support the scale of deposit that has made Australia so mineral-rich.

      And the small fact that Australia is bloody huge (and therefore has a lot of mineral wealth) seems to have escaped Brownlee too.

  7. Fisiani 7

    WOW. Godwin’s Law in just 30 minutes.
    No debate no argument.

    Some viewers might have to look up what Godwin’s Law is.

    • Bright Red 7.1

      Godwin’s law just says that references to naz1s come up, it doesn’t say they’re banned.

      and micky’s point is valid. He is criticising your stupid ‘the truth must be somewhere in the middle’ comment, which, incidentally, used two strawmen as the extremes to make Brownlee the senseible midd.e

  8. tc 8

    Fisiani has a point in so far as mining can co-exist as long as there’s safeguards and the environments protected but fails to back it up with examples and I think rather lamely asks others to.

    I must of missed the ‘collect underpants’ aspect of the argument being put forward……the rare earth example’s a nice line but what proof does Browncoal have of any such large scale deposits.

    I’d suggest the facts are as rare in this gov’t dealings with the public as these elements GB covets so dearly……..if they exist at all…..what’s he really up to ?

  9. Bill 9

    I wish somebody with a voice in msm would knock this rational vs emotional shit on the head.

    Firstly because framing an anti-mining of s4 land stance as ’emotive’ is a punt at conjuring up all those bullshit sexist connotations associated with ‘hysteria’. ( On the up side, at least it seems that the h word can’t be used these days.)

    Secondly, passion and rationality go together rather well, whereas narrow rational approaches fail to comprehend in any complete fashion.

  10. mcflock 10

    The “rational” approach is also supposed to rationally evaluate the relative merits of conflicting data, i.e. a cost-benefit analysis.

    For example the current value of “100% pure NZ” tourism vs actual mining benefits (plus the tourism benefits of “Mining: see how we drill the pristine natural landscape again and again and again” visitors’ centres, of course).

    So far the current lot seem set on a course of action that is based entirely on back of the envelope calculations. This does not seem “rational”. It seems “bloody stupid”.

  11. outofbed 11

    What about the Mokihinui ?

    Mokihinui decision disastrous

    The decision to grant resource consent for an 85m hydro dam on the Mokihinui River is the wrong one, the Green Party said today.

    “The Mokihinui is one of the most environmentally significant and biodiverse rivers in the country. Damming it would permanently reverse this,’ Green Party Conservation Spokesperson and West Coast MP Kevin Hague said.

    The commissioners hearing the consent application today decided to grant consent for Meridian Energy’s proposed hydro dam. The decision was split 2-1.

    “If this dam goes ahead, the Mokihinui will permanently lose its environmental and biodiversity value,’ Mr Hague said.

    “There is no way to mitigate or offset the effect of a dam like the one proposed. Meridian Energy’s own report to suggest ways to do this back in 2008 found that it would be impossible.

    “The Mokihinui is home to twelve species of native fish including the chronically endangered long-finned eel. The Mokihinui is one of the few unpolluted and undammed habitats left for the long-finned eel.

    “The eel population will be disastrously affected by the dam, which will prevent them from migrating to the sea to breed and returning back to the upper reaches of the river to mature.

    “The dam will also drown 330 hectares of native rainforest,’ Mr Hague said.

    Mr Hague said that although the consent has been granted the dam still needs to obtain DOC concessions to cut down and flood tall rare forest, reduce habitat, and most likely kill threatened species such as whio, kiwi and long-finned eel.

    “This Minister of Conservation has some ground to make up over the mining issue,’ Mr Hague said.

    “I urge her to do the right thing and refuse these concessions when they come up.’

    Mr Hague said he could not understand the decision given that a scheme to use polluted water from coal mines on the Stockton Plateau to generate hydro electricity had already been granted consents, meaning there would be no need for further hydro power generation on the West Coast.

    “There is nothing to recommend this dam. I urge the Minister of Conservation to act as a good landlord of the public land affected when she gets the chance,’ he said.

    Mr Hague said in the meantime the Green Party would read the decision to grant the resource consent carefully and consider joining any appeal against it.

  12. richgraham 12

    “But the geology does not support the scale of deposit that has made Australia so mineral-rich”.
    You people are ignorant.
    The enormous scale of the lignite deposits in Southland contradicts that. Or does an exception prove a rule in your la-la land ?
    Instead of making asses of yourselves, may I suggest one of you blatherers actually go and find out about mineral deposits in NZ, the likelihood of a mineral discovery becoming a mine, and while you are at it, research the history of the NZ Labour party, founded in Blackball, mining town. Track down an expert in the mining industry and talk to him, get some facts.
    Are you backstabbers now, stabbing the working miners of NZ in the back ?
    Personally I suspect you are traitors to the working people of Aotaroa, determined to reduce us to penury, and subsiding into irrelevance as we watch our children emigrate to leave the land empty
    and fruitless. Our nation was founded in significant part on mining, I expect you find a simple fact like that uncomfortable.
    Come on Labour, Wake Up !

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      determined to reduce us to penury, and subsiding into irrelevance as we watch our children emigrate to leave the land empty

      That’s ACT and Nationals desire as they look to sell off all our wealth and resources to the highest bidder.

    • Bright Red 12.2

      wow, what a nut-bar.

      this isn’t about banning all mining. It’s about mining on precious land that has been specifically protected (by the National Party!) from mining.

      And if you really think we’re going to strip mine the South Island to get a whole lot of a dirtiest coal around, then convert it into petrol in an incredibly dirty and expensive process, you’re dreaming mate.

    • lprent 12.3

      RG: Just ask yourself this basic question.. The Southland Lignite has been known about for eons. It is largely on private land, not in national parks, and relatively accessible. Why has there never been a export industry based on it?

      Because you’re clearly a geological idiot, I’ll tell you. There are better, more accessible, and more economic deposits elsewhere in the world. Notably in aussie.

      The deposits that were being referred to are mineral deposits – not biologically emplaced deposits. I’d suggest that you follow your own advice and stop being such an blowhard illiterate (in one of my fields). Go and learn something about mineral geology and stop confusing the two.

      Furthermore I’d suggest that you need to learn more about the history of the mining unions and what their aspirations were for their kids. At present you appear to largely know about wingnut mythology.

      In fact you really do come across as an ignorant prat.

  13. Jum 13

    a ‘group of businesspeople’ were trying to get consent to put a canopy walkway over one of the few pristine, untouched, respected areas of forest in the South Island. What happened with that. Are they still trying to get it through?

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