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John Key lies about “surgical” mining

Written By: - Date published: 9:01 am, March 6th, 2010 - 25 comments
Categories: Conservation, Environment, john key, national/act government - Tags:

The Herald this morning says Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee is refusing to rule out opencast mining on our most precious conservation lands. This is serious.

Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee has refused to rule out open-pit mining in our highest value conservation parks ahead of a review due out shortly…

Asked by the Herald for an assurance that open-cast methods would be ruled out, Mr Brownlee yesterday declined to give it.

So the Key-government is putting the complete destruction of native bush, pristine clear rivers, and dazzling hills and mountains on the table. All these wonderful things might be turned into giant pits for gold miners.

That is reprehensible to most Kiwis who cherish these places, who don’t think you can sell them off to the highest bidder (or to National’s mates in the mining industry).

The revelation also makes a liar of John Key.

Key promised Kiwis that surgical mining techniques would prevent widespread destruction:

Mr Key said using techniques such as “surgical mining” made it possible to access valuable mineral deposits without desecrating landscapes. “Under modern mining techniques, it’s not these big opencast wounds on the landscape that results; it’s a surgical incision in the land.”

Yet he knew all along that gold miners in the Coromandel would want to churn through and destroy large areas. Thanks for ignoring Kiwis’ interests, John.

Key needs to realise that our land, bush, mountains, lakes, rivers, and seas, are special to Kiwis. They’re bigger than him. Key will suffer a spectacular fall from grace if he messes with them.

25 comments on “John Key lies about “surgical” mining ”

  1. Pete DGeorge 1

    Instead of doing a surgical mining strike on possible National intentions this seems to be trying to inflict “big opencast wounds on the landscape”. If you overhype it’s not going to difficult to make lesser mining incursions seem relatively reasonable.

    Applying your standards of exaggerated application of meaning it may not be difficult to accuse you of lying here.

    Going from “Gerry Brownlee is refusing to rule out opencast mining” to Key “possible to access valuable mineral deposits without desecrating landscapes” as breaking “a promise” is quite a jump.

    “Yet he knew all along”??

  2. Pete DGeorge 2

    I wasn’t trying to defend anything. I was just trying to point out that exaggerating your case could be counter productive. If you paint Key as you have in your picture then surgical mining may seem quite reasonable to most people.

    What experience have you had with development versus the environment?

    The place I grew up was flooded and transformed by a hydro lake. I miss the old, most people just swim and ski.

    Have you been to West Arm? Been for a cruise on Doubtful sound? I doubt I would have enjoyed going there if it wasn’t for a reasonably landscape friendly development – that could have been much worse, the equivalent of an open cast eyesore.

    • Michael Foxglove 2.1

      The thing is Pete, mining for gold in the Coromandel can’t be surgical. The easily accessible areas of gold are long gone, so what’s left are small widely dispersed pieces.

      If the Government is going to allow gold to be mined on the most precious conservation areas, it will for that reason very likely be opencast. And that’s why Brownlee couldn’t rule it out.

      The reason for my picture, is simply because that’s what’s at stake.

      NZers are much more aware of environmental degradation in modern times. And putting more Waihi mines on conservation land in the Coromandel is so 20th Century.

  3. Good on you Michael

    first a stocktake, then mining no matter what, then surgical mining (ha ha), now this non ruling out of open cast mining – brownlee has grabbed a tiger by the tail and it will turn and scratch him.

    he thinks he has it sorted but this issue is one of the key issues that could break the back of the right – we need to unify the opposition, put aside our petty differences and drive this hard.

    as for pinociccokey – he likes being popular – well that is his big weakness right there.

    keep the pressure on with these good posts.

  4. Bill 4

    “Key promised Kiwis that…”

    No. At least, not in the link you provide. All he did was make an assertion about the reduced environmental impact of some modern mining techniques…not that these techniques would be used or anything of the like.

    I don’t see how he could have made any such promise given the likely geological circumstances that would rule out technique a or b in a given location.

    I’d suggest he mentioned these ‘clean’ modern techniques to challenge the commonly held perception of mines. And it might have had some impact on some people.

    And then Brownlee says that nothing is off the table…so people have first of all been thrown a line to suggest their idea of mining is out of date…and then reintroduced to the idea that maybe mines will be old fashioned open cast. It’s all an exercise in softening opinion.

    Finally, if any of this goes ahead, there will be a mix of mining techniques based on the pragmatic advice of geologists allowing Johnny and co. off the hook to a degree. By the time mining commences, they will have softened opinion and then muddied the waters and laid the environmental impact at the door of geologists and of nature that was thoughtless in its mineral dispersal.

    Throw in on top an argument about jobs for small communities in a depression and money for NZ Inc blah, blah, blah.

    What PeteD said too.

    • Michael Foxglove 4.1

      Do you support the mining Bill, or do you agree that conservation values are too important to put a price on?

      (genuine question, couldn’t tell from your comment)

      • Bill 4.1.1

        Fuck, no.

        Digging a hole for throwing the Nat cabinet into would be a type of mining I might support.

        Meanwhile, basing objections on the supposed inconsistency of words spoken by politicians is not, I’d suggest, the most effective way to proceed. The politicians and their utterances ought to be viewed as a sideshow to the main focus of conservation and mining. Otherwise they get to set the parameters of debate and control the speed or rate of the unfolding of the debate.

        And if they do that well…if they are given the space to manage the debate… then mining on conservation land is ‘in the bag’.

        edit The type of comment pasted by PB below ought to be getting pushed hard. Back foot the politicians and make them argue on substantial aspects of the matter.

        • Michael Foxglove

          I think you make some very sound points. As does PB below.

          You’re certainly right that in the long-term that the debate needs to be driven by a more consistent debate about values.

          I do nonetheless think there is value in showing the true face of our Minister of Tourism – a liar and a hypocrite. Because when this issue is raised during the next election, Kiwis shouldn’t believe a damn word he says.

          • Pete DGeorge

            This suggests that what you value is trying to set the scene for the next election rather than address the issue you supposedly were posting on. Ie trying to accumulate political points.

            What is most important to you? Winning the next election or saving “our most precious conservation lands”?

            I want openness and honesty with our politicians – and would like to see it from bloggers too.

            • Michael Foxglove

              “What is most important to you? Winning the next election or saving “our most precious conservation lands’?”

              They’re the same damn thing. Haven’t you been watching what the govt’s doing?

              And you can’t blame this blogger for the fact that John Key is a liar. There’s only one man you can blame for that.

              • Pete DGeorge

                It’s a very weak argument for “lie”.

                And it’s also weak if you are suggesting the next election will be won or lost on whether any mining is allowed on the conservation estate. Or if you are suggesting it will be won or lost on whether people thing Key has lied or not.

  5. Pascal's bookie 5


    GWB and D’rth Cheney didn’t end up drilling in the ANWR, even when the congress was controlled by Tom Delay and his Abramoff corrupt as all hell mates. That’s how extreme this is.

    Here’s an old OBWings post talking about that when it was on the table over there. It pretty much sums up my thoughts on why this sucks so hard:

    But the question for me has never been how greenly the oil can be extracted, but rather how much integrity the concept of a National Wildlife Refuge has for the people of the United States. Pro-drilling enthusiasts like to argue that “The debate in Congress today centers solely on this small section [1.9 million acres]; the remaining 17.5 million acres of ANWR lie in the protected enclave that cannot be developed.” Or they faithlessly argue that section 1002 is not pristine (the it’s-ugly-so-why-do-you-care argument). This argument is particularly disengenous though, because those offering it surely understand that any impact on section 1002 (which includes the shoreline) has been determined as very likely to have significant effects on the rest of ANWR, which even the Heritage Foundation admits is America’s “last true wilderness, a hallowed place, and a pristine environmental area.”

    But back to their first argument, that this is an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny part of the Refuge they want to develop. That’s totally beside the point in the context of whether or not our national concept of a Wildlife refuge has any integrity. Once breached, that integrity is forever and for always lost. It’s understood when a nation sets aside a section of land, saying that no development will happen here, that such a symbolic gesture represents a sacrifice. It’s understood that a time may come when folks want to build or extract things there because other cheaper alternatives have been exhausted. The test of the concept however is what the nation does to protect the Refuge’s integrity, not how greenly or minutely they violate that integrity.


    As you can see, the arguments in favour are pretty much identical, “But we need to, and it’s only a teeny tiny bit, and it’s only in the ugly land, and odern methods”.

    And again, to be clear, Cheney, Bush and Delay chickened out.

    Being worse than that gang on any score is as about as bad as you can get.

    • Lew 5.1

      Spot on, Bookie.

      “Key and Brownlee: Worse than Bush and Cheney” is a headline even the righties won’t want to see.


  6. randal 6

    hell if you’ve seen one national park you have seen ’em all!

  7. gobsmacked 7

    The opposition need to dig up (sorry) Brownlee’s interview on Morning Report a couple of weeks ago, when he said that mines can be popular tourist attractions. I don’t know why they let that one pass without comment, it was a Gerry classic.

    (and to rebut in advance, yes, historical mines can be tourist attractions, as are historical slave prisons and battlefields and shipwrecks and A-bomb sites … but that doesn’t mean you should be encouraging the activity that made them famous in the first place!)

  8. Brett 8

    I don’t have a problem with mining in some of the conservation areas.
    Bills need to be paid or cuts need to be made.

    • Lanthanide 8.1

      What happens when there are no good areas left to mine? Do we have to make cuts then? You can’t keep kicking the issue down to the future because it’s “too hard” to deal with now, eventually someone has to pay the piper, prime example being That Nice Man Mr Key’s promise that he will not make any changes to super, and if he does he will resign.

      • Brett 8.1.1

        Would you be willing to see cuts made to working for families etc, if it meant no mining within conservation areas?

        • Lew

          Department of meaningless straw-men. Mining the Schedule 4 land is not a TINA situation, Brett.


  9. Fisiani 9

    All of the South Island will be destroyed. No one will ever visit the Coromandel. The Sky is falling in…….

    • RT 9.1

      There are a lot of mine shafts along the ridges of the coromandel. Brownly should try and see if he can fit down one.

  10. George.com 10

    A Ronald McDonald type Prime Minister. The more I think about it, the more i reckon that description is apt. The golden arches, the blue N.

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