Key’s mining plan worse than Bush’s

Written By: - Date published: 6:14 am, March 23rd, 2010 - 51 comments
Categories: Conservation, Environment, Mining - Tags: , ,

John Key’s mining plan released yesterday is true madness. It sacrifices New Zealand’s natural heritage to make a buck for a few multi-national mining companies. The full list of changes make it clear: Key is mounting an attack on our conservation areas on a scale that even George W Bush couldn’t stomach.

Mr Key is looking to remove the following areas from schedule 4 to open them up for mining:

  • A significant portion of protected areas in the Coromandel
  • Great Barrier Island
  • A whole 8% of Paparoa National Park!
  • Otahu Ecological Area (a hugely valuable habitat for Kiwis and native frogs)

Also up for the bulldozing:

  • Rakiura / Stewart Island
  • Hugely important conservation areas in Northland

Those incredible areas are worth more than a few dollars for Key and Brownlee’s mining mates.

Sadly, those schedule 4 lands listed above are just a small part of what the government is hoping to destroy and bulldoze. Buried near the back of the government’s report is the proposal to “streamline” the process for mining companies wanting permission to mine all general conservation land.

Under the new processes, Gerry Brownlee’s decree and the Minister of Conservation’s rubber stamp is all that stands in the way of mining companies getting access to our conservation lands. And Brownlee will bypass the only other safeguard – the RMA – by declaring the mining operations of “national significance” and calling them in.

Put quite simply, the only barrier to a mining operation on conservation land will be Gerry Brownlee. How scary is that? And according to the report he’s even eyeing up the other conservation areas already. These include:

  • Non-schedule 4 areas of the Coromandel
  • Central North Island
  • Dun Mountain, east of Nelson
  • North-west Nelson (just outside of Kahurangi National park)
  • Tapuaenuku (the area of the famous Kaikoura mountain of the same name)
  • Haast river
  • Non-specified areas in Westland/Southland/Central Otago

It’s going to be disasterous.

If you want an object of comparison, former US President George W Bush had a similar proposal in front of him. He didn’t go there (hat tip: Pascal’s bookie). Key is worse than Bush – yep, this is getting pretty bad.

Key and Brownlee must be stopped. I urge everyone to submit online on the proposals. It’ll only take a second, and you’ll be helping save New Zealand as we know and love it.

51 comments on “Key’s mining plan worse than Bush’s”

  1. jcuknz 1

    Morning Report a few minutes ago …. Gold Mining is a sustainable industry! … its been going since the 1800’s and still going. According to the mining spokesperson …. that is a fascinating new meaning for the word.

  2. freedom 2

    what a surprise, look what lawyers like the idea

    • lprent 3.1

      Did you notice the extraction rate?

      Macraes gold mine

      The Macraes gold deposit is the largest active gold mine in New Zealand. The mine has produced more than 1.8 million ounces of gold at an average grade of 1.6 grams/tonne since opening in 1990. The mine is operated by Oceana Gold (NZ) Ltd Gold production in 2004 was more than 184 000 ounces (5.7 tonnes). More than 5 million tonnes of ore per year are currently being processed. Resource estimate in 2004 was 3.9 million ounces of gold in 87 million tonnes of ore at 1.4 grams/tonne.

      My bold. Macraes is a pretty modern mine using up-to-date extraction technologies. So much for ‘surgical mining’. The extraction rates for silver are usually even lower.

      Basically Brownlee increasingly looks like a badly animated sock-puppet for the mining PR

  3. Key is worse than Bush? What a headline! How bad is that!

    And I thought he was going to be Labour lite but also give us a tax cut.

    The interesting thing here is that if he does bow down to the public consternation this will cause then will truely become the minister in charge of flip flops.

    • prism 4.1

      Don’t damn him if he does and also if he doesn’t ms. If he does listen and stop the mining Key will be acting strongly and doing right and resisting the neanderthals in his party. That should be recognised and praised not sneered at as a flip flop, if it does happen!

  4. Peter Johns 5

    Hello Lefties – now, how are we to keep paying in the future for benefits to the underclass, keep borrowing? Or maybe have excessive tax rates above 50% plus GST at 15%? A rich prick tax II!
    NZ is a 1 trick pony with tourism & farming. Increasing minerals will help make the country richer in the long run but spread the risk. But when someone has an idea to create jobs, this site always poo poos it. You can’t keep saying National are not creating jobs but slag them off when they have a quite plausible plan to create thru mining. Under Labour we will just go back to tax & spend, but borrow as well.

    • Pascal's bookie 5.1

      I’ve got no problem with mining, as long as it’s done with as much care as possible, and follows all the laws etc.

      I see no reason to believe that schedule 4 lands are the areas we should be looking at though.

      Perhaps you can offer one?

      What’s wrong with the land oustside of DOC land for starters?

      Why doesn’t the country do a stocktake of all the dairy land that’s polluting the waterways. The govt owns the minerals under there too and Gerry was saying that mining returns more money per ha than dairying. If the problem is that using private land would make the deal too expensive and not viable, then the govt is just subsidising foreign miners by letting them use public lands at below cost. Whaddareya mate, Some sort of muldoonist?

      Do you really think that the only bits of NZ worth mining just happen to be in the 15 odd perecnt protected by s4?

      That’s just stupid.

    • kaplan 5.2

      Hey heres an idea. Lets setup Fiordland as a nuclear and toxic waste containment site. We could probably create a a few hundred thousand jobs during construction and long term operations and management. Would be fantastic income too.
      Anyone see a downside?
      Hmmmm maybe how the jobs are created IS important…

      • felix 5.2.1

        That sounds like it could make more money over a longer period than mining. Let’s have a serious discussion about it.

        • Pascal's bookie

          Insiders report that tourists pay good money to see three eyed fish, and documentary teams still vist Chernobyl after all these years, so there are potential benefits for our film industry too.

          • felix

            Workers won’t last long dealing with these toxic nuclear poisons – and that means jobs jobs jobs!

            • Pascal's bookie

              It’ll be harder for trampers to get lost in wilderness that glows at night.

    • Bright Red 5.3

      “now, how are we to keep paying in the future for benefits to the underclass, keep borrowing?”

      Flase premise. The deficit is set to disappear within a few years. That ‘decade of deficits’ turned out to be more National bull crap.

    • prism 5.4

      Peter J you want us to return to the fallback of extraction which is a primitive industry that a new or poor developing country falls back on. Australia is past that level of course, but they also have huge areas of desert which is not as sensitive ecologically as our country. We need to get more business that enhances the country, not decimates it. Kerry Prendergast proposes to lead a business group to China to that end. I suppose you will criticise such a positive, robust pro-active venture.

      We are bad at holding onto industry with employment here in NZ, that gives alternatives to tourism and farming. We’re such fumblers that we dropped our knickers at the same time as we enthusiastically dropped most of our tariffs and exposed all to the world’s cold blizzards. The USA doesn’t do such things, with all their wealth and strength.

      And no doubt you are one of the consumer spenders and house buyers who benefited from Labour’s careful hand on the country. Why did you spend so much? You should have saved more. You have unbalanced our current account with long-term effects. Don’t blame Labour blame yourself.

      • Peter Johns 5.4.1

        Prism – you said: And no doubt you are one of the consumer spenders and house buyers who benefited from Labour’s careful hand on the country. Why did you spend so much? You should have saved more. You have unbalanced our current account with long-term effects. Don’t blame Labour blame yourself.

        I borrowed $315K in 2003 to buy my house on the North Shore (Greenhithe) because thanks to Helen’s careful hand on the economy this helped turn South Auckland into a bigger shithole than it was in the 1990s (Papakura). My mortgage is now $90K, so I have paid $225K, (72%) off in just over 6 years. So I reckon I have done more to re balance the borrowing than most limp wristed socialists who have borrowed for coffees in Ponsonby. I took responsibility to decrease my mortgage to a managble level as I saw the GFC coming ages before it happened. I also have 2 children under 15 to support. Add to this, I have $40K in a work savings scheme & $20K in shares so my total debt is under $30K, assets $800K. Debt to assett ratio is 1:27, I am even sure Marty G will say this is a good position. Not so bad ah. Now, tell me your position?

        • Clarke

          Just to point out the blindingly obvious, Peter, but your zealous repayment of your mortgage has likely contributed to the current account deficit.

          Assuming you borrowed from an overseas-owned bank which in turn borrowed from the global money markets, your repayments resulted in a net outflow to the foreign lenders. As the amount you repaid exceeded the amount you borrowed (thanks to the interest component) you have helped impoverish the country. Well done.

          • Peter Johns

            As we had to get a mortgage we had to borrow from overseas I guess. So bloody what? I have paid off shitloads of principal and over time I will have paid off a lot less interest by paying earlier so I have minimised the impact on NZ of money leaving these shores. My personal debt is my problem, not the countries, but as we are told to get debt down I am paying off asap as I have the ability to do this as my wife & I both work. I will be debt free in 2012. Then my savings in the bank can be used by others to borrow and invest in business in NZ, give to my kids for education or I can use to modify my lifestyle. I don’t see a problem with that approach. That will help NZ in the longer term

            ‘…you have helped impoverish the country.’ How, by paying my taxes and getting nothing back like WFF etc?

            Cullen impoverished NZ far more than I did by buying the wrecked train set.

            • Clarke

              As we had to get a mortgage we had to borrow from overseas I guess.

              Well, you could borrow from Kiwibank, which sources a greater percentage of its mortgage money from onshore deposits than any of the major banks, and which doesn’t repatriate its profits to Australia. So the account deficit is improved all round when you do this.

              I will be debt free in 2012. Then my savings in the bank can be used by others to borrow and invest in business in NZ, give to my kids for education or I can use to modify my lifestyle.

              Good on you – seriously. Taking advantage of dual incomes to pay down the mortgage earlier is a sensible and prudent thing to do at a personal level, and you’ve obviously been prudent in the way you’ve managed your personal finances.

              Cullen impoverished NZ far more than I did by buying the wrecked train set.

              Actually Cullen did nothing of the sort. No money was borrowed overseas to fund the purchase and no additional taxes were raised – technically, he printed some money to buy an asset, so the country was richer as a result. How is this a bad thing?

        • prism

          Peter J – I tossed in some irritating queries at the end of my post about your approach to NZ’s thriving economy (ex mining) and struck gold. What about that!
          You are very smug about your own money management, but looking at what is good for NZ economy and employment doesn’t rate a mention or thought. Your reply confirms the impression from your earlier post that you haven’t thoughts just kneejerk responses – Nats good righties v Labour bad lefties as in your comment –
          “Hello Lefties now, how are we to keep paying in the future for benefits to the underclass, keep borrowing? Or maybe have excessive tax rates above 50% plus GST at 15%? A rich prick tax II!

    • Clarke 5.5

      Hello Lefties now, how are we to keep paying in the future for benefits to the underclass, keep borrowing?

      Were you actively trying for Dumbest Comment Of The Weekâ„¢?

      First things first. A sovereign government like NZ with a fiat non-convertible currency does not need to borrow anything from anyone in order to sustain government spending. To claim otherwise simply demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of monetary policy, which has probably come about from drinking too much of the right-wing Kool Aid. I suggest you go get yourself educated about the subject.

      Secondly, there’s simply no evidence that the mining proposed by Key will have any noticeable impact on government finances, given that we appear to have some of the lowest royalty rates in the world. So how was this miraculous shower of wealth going to work if we’re effectively giving away the resources to the mining companies?

    • chris 5.6

      Idiot, idiot, idiot.

      NZ doesn’t need mining, we need innovation and smart entrepreurial companies. the sooner dinosaurs like you die and stop influencing political discourse the better.

    • max 5.7

      After all, Congo is just the sort of place we should be aspiring to be, or was that Mozambique?

  5. tc 6

    Hey PJ “But when someone has an idea to create jobs, this site always poo poos it”….how many jobs do you expect kiwi’s to get from a multinationals mechanised mining process ?

    Go ahead and assume a large orebody of a mineral that inherently has the highest labour component… many jobs and for how long ?

    And this classic “You can’t keep saying National are not creating jobs but slag them off when they have a quite plausible plan to create thru mining.”…..don’t see the jump in employed or a plausible plan PJ, maybe you could enlighten us.

  6. prism 7

    Figure given of $17 million for trying to rehabilitate abandoned Tui mine, and doubt expressed that it can be successfully done. How much did the country make when a full balance sheet drawn up for that and other mining projects? The Coromandel watchdog spokesman made some good points. One was that you don’t hear mining interests talk about tailings – ( the dirty tale that mustn’t be spoken). He also made the point from experience, about Resource Management hearings that multi-nationals have 100,000s to spend mounting their case, and locals disagreeing hold cake stalls etc. So uneven, (David v Goliath but with David’s stone size limited to a pebble as being possibly effective and therefore dangerous to the powerful.)

    From discussion on 9tonoon this am on Nat Radio between various viewpoints.

    • Ianmac 7.1

      Prism. There is a plan to Streamline the Resource Management plan ya’ know. Funnily enough it will make major projects to be fast-tracked but of course this has nothing to do with the proposed mining, – or has it?

      • prism 7.1.1

        Streamline RMA? It’s as quality legislation as a leaky home. Interfere with it and risk releasing the spores into the environment. Must go and see Alice in Wonderland. It will be like a reality show.

  7. tc 8

    43,000 jobs……that’s hilarious…probably gerry and his oversized nose again I bet, the man wouldn’t lie straight in bed.

    Having worked in the caper and we had large iron/gold/uranium operations I’m struggling to get a few thousand max on a large operational iron ore mine and remember these must be ‘new’ jobs that kiwis can have not specialist jobs only foreigners can hold because they have the mining skills.

    Gosh between this and cycleway all our employment problems are solved…..maybe we could have a scenic cycleway around some open cast pits and tailings dams so promote those great tourist attractions.

  8. A Nonny Moose 9

    I’m guessing Key didn’t feel a thing watching “Last Chance to See” the other night.

    Pretty sad when the BBC has to school us on our own conservation efforts.

    But go right ahead. Fuck up those endangered species. Tigers and whales say o hai.

  9. Ianmac 10

    Just read the Herald-online but thought that it was curious that apart from the Nikki Kaye story, there are no blazing headlines about Mining.

  10. coolas 11

    Where are Crosby Textor?

    Key & Brownlee seem unprepared for the argument. Rhetoric about postage stamps and surgical techniques are already exhausted. Economic benefit is unproven.

    Today on National Radio John Banks promoted himself as the saviour of Great Barrier. He’s. ‘gonna fight tooth and nail.’

    For mining on Great Barrier major infrastructure is required: water, power, roads, port facilities. And tailings, toxic chemical containment or removal. That and public opinion makes Great Barrier’s inclusion untenable.

    Is this the Crosby script? From the outset, focus attention on Barrier, with the intention all along to withdraw it after ‘listening’ to the people, thus softening the blow and appearing reasonable.

    And Banksie, National’s chosen SuperMayor, gets to play hero of conservation with the balls to stand up to the Govt.

    If that’s too conspiratorial Gerry Brownlee must be as clumsy and stupid as he appears.

  11. DeeDub 12

    Thankyou Trevor for telling it like it is:

    Trevor Mallard: (via Facebook) “Very hard to believe that people want to dig up our national parks for coal and gold. Mining companies take notice that my party will close down mines opened in contravention to current policy. So don’t waste your yen, yuan or $US.”

    • Seti 12.1

      Trev has a short memory.

      Coal Mine Approved for New Zealand National Park

      March 16, 2004

      New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter has given conditional approval to an underground coal mine in and adjacent to a national park.

      Over the objections of environmental groups, the Pike River Coal Company has gotten the nod to develop a mine at Paparoa National Park near Pike River on the West Coast of the country’s South Island.

      …The largest New Zealand conservation, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, is criticizing Carter for ignoring a report by his own staff that says the mine will be destructive for the area.

      A DOC report obtained by Forest and Bird under the Official Information Act reveals that the controversial coal mine is inconsistent with conservation legislation and would degrade an important and almost pristine area, said Forest and Bird field officer, Eugenie Sage.

      • lprent 12.1.1

        Coal mining is a different proposition to mining for gold, silver, the Palladium group, and rare earths.

        Perhaps you should look at the difference and get back to us when you’re better informed about why the concentrations make a difference to potential mining systems and their effect on the environment?

        • Seti

          “Coal mining is a different proposition to mining for gold, silver, the Palladium group, and rare earths.”

          So you have no opposition to coal mining in National Parks then?

          • lprent

            If you have a look at how Pikes Peak was done, then I have less objection to that method of extraction than I do to any of the other mining ideas that are around.

            Pike Peak above ground mining operation is outside the park, using underground mining going under the park. The main threat to the park itself is from subsidence, which is why the company has to leave a lot of serious pillars of load bearing coal in place. They can do this because the concentrations of coal is very very high. Therefore the amount extracted is close to the amount mined. There are no real tailings, and most of that will be shoved back underground.

            The company has some serious environmental restrictions that I just can’t see either clueless or Brownlee being able to use on anything apart from high level coking coal, and making the mine economic.

            As I said earlier, if you inform yourself on mining techniques for various types of ore, then we can have a discussion. At present your vacuous knowledge tends to make it pointless because you’re too busy trying to do political point scoring to actually understand the issues.

            Or in other words, you’re acting like a dickhead.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Here’s an indication of what gold mining does to the landscape. The line I’ve got drawn across the mine is 7km long.

  12. Bill 13

    “Put quite simply, the only barrier to a mining operation on conservation land will be Gerry Brownlee. How scary is that?”

    No, no, no. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

    What stands between conservation land and mining is you and me…’everyman’ and his dog. So the question becomes, ” How scared can we make Gerry and his mates?”

    (apologies for the gender bias. unavoidable.)

  13. freedom 14

    i still await an answer as to how the announcement can have two conflicting figures that are $50 Billion dollars apart. That is not small change. That is a huge disparity in details inside the same announcement

    • prism 14.1

      Oh freedom you are worrying too much about the details – just think of the big picture and let’s do it. There’s big money in this that’s all we need to know. Oh maybe better not think of the big picture, think small, pinhole even.

  14. tc 15

    Iprent’s detail on Macraes mine at an average grade of 1.6 grams/tonne etc makes an interesting case.

    1.6g/Tonne is quite low grade and the lower the grade the more processing to get it extracted so more talings/chemicals/by products/more ore churned through to get more gold so larger holes, deeper pits etc etc

    If this is typical of the grade of ore we possess then it’s hardly worth bothering about so be afraid of the big business mantras behind gerr and sideshow and remember kids, modern mining techniques means less jobs not less nasty byproducts and environmental impact etc.

    • lprent 15.1

      I was surprised to find the extraction rate being that high. It is usually more like a gram per tonne in igneous rock. But that is probably explained by the formation method – geothermal.

      Gold was emplaced in the shear zone by flow of hot hydrothermal water in the latter stages of this metamorphism, about 130-140 million years ago.

      You can get higher value concentration pockets of ore in sediment or sedimentary rock. But these are typically in pockets because of the nature of the sedimentation process in rivers. To make them economic you still have to process vast volumes to find the pockets along old stream beds. ast lines or paleo

      The exception to this is of course along current or paleo coastlines. But we don’t have much of that apart from iron sands.

      You can also get high concentrations in igneous rock intrusions that have veins because of differential cooling. But again you still have to extract a whole lot of rock to get what you’re after because the veins are typically tiny.

      The one type of mining that you really get concentrations are coal, oil and gas. A biological process typically produces high concentrations which means that the mining potentially can be moderately ‘surgical’ – for instance Pikes Peak. But even there you’d have to get worried about long term subsidence and leachates.

      But Brownlee is just jerking off when he talks about ‘surgical’ mining

  15. Ianmac 16

    Rod Oram on Nine to Noon 11:05 today did an excellent job of balancing pros and cons especially with regards to expected returns from mining.

  16. prism 17

    Information to remember – From other post. “Our mineral potential includes so-called “rare earth elements’, which are considered globally to be minerals of strategic importance, given very limited players in the global market. They include dysprosium, terbium, erbium and ytterbium, which are critical to technologies such as hybrid and electric cars, wind turbines, computer disk drives, fibreoptic telecommuni…..

    Word to remember – leachate. Adversely affects environment while mining in progress and continues after the mining company have swanned off and washed their hands off that project. Care needed.

  17. tc 18

    On a related tangent how about all that oil/gas in the great sthn basin….alledged to be as big as the Nth Sea field, it’s there, it’s doable (thanks to advances in Rig technology) and it’s urgently needed by the world and we could leverage Oz’s expertise in this into a market that should be screaming for crude by the time it’s ‘up’.

    If these clowns were geniunely interested in NZ’s mineral wealth that’s an obvious place IMHO but there can’t be any nat backers interested in it so it’s not discussed is it……apparently the yanks are aware of it though having helped map it in the 70’s….watch that space.

  18. RJF 19

    Think of it this way…

    What is the world going to look like in the next 100 years, and what the world thinks when it looks at NZ. either

    A. a complete shithole that extracts coal so a few select big wigs can profit and give nil back to NZ


    B. a green oasis full of native creatures, that all hard hard working NZer can somehow profit from

    tourism over coal mineing doesn’t look so bad now does it

    PS. if any part of this coal mineing propositon gets through. its unlikely Key will survive the next election. so in the short run it could benifit NZ

  19. Armchair Critic 20

    Where are the 84 mines on conservaion land that Key keeps referring to?
    I’ve spent a couple of hours looking on the internet after fisiani mentioned them, asking for proof of their existence, and found nothing beyond a quarry somewhere in Wellington. Goff had Key concede that none of the 84 are on s4 land, but I’m not convinced they even exist.

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