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The long game on mining

Written By: - Date published: 12:25 am, March 27th, 2010 - 15 comments
Categories: Conservation, Mining, tourism - Tags: ,

Beyond this opening gambit on mining, National clearly has a larger plan.

It is going to back down over Great Barrier, whether or not that was never part of the plan all along. But it is lining up more areas for later on.

The Minister for Energy and Resources (Gerry Brownlee) is going to have co-authority to approve mining on conservation land along with the Minister for Conservation (Kate Wilkinson). Currently, that power rests solely with the Minister for Conservation.

Clearly, this move is intended to allow future mining permits on the conservation estate, both on Schedule 4 and not, to get permission with weaker environmental protections. That’s probably why the surprisingly conservation conscious Tim Groser was moved out of the portfolio recently.

Then there’s all other areas that will be investigated for mining:

• the Northland region
• public conservation lands on the Coromandel Peninsula (in Schedule 4)
• the Southern Coromandel volcanic zone
• parts of the Central North Island
• parts of Dun Mountain Ophiolite belt, east of Nelson
• the granitoids of the Median Batholith outside of national park areas, including those
within the Lyell District, Westland, the Rotoroa Complex near Murchison, and the
Riwaka Complex in northwest Nelson
• parts of Paparoa National Park (in Schedule 4) excluding the Inangahua Sector
• the Tapuaenuku Complex near Kaikoura
• areas potentially containing carbonatite rocks north of Haast River
• South Island areas with potential for mesothermal gold (in Central Otago and the
West Coast)
• the Longwood complex in Southland
• parts of Stewart Island including Rakiura

It’s quite an extensive list, and while the environmental value of these areas is high they tend to be further away from Auckland and, the government will be hoping, less politically sensitive.

The interesting thing about these areas though is that they put the government’s mining agenda even more in conflict with tourism. Great Barrier and Coromandel are largely areas for domestic tourism but the central plateau and the parts of the South Island under threat are sites of much of our international tourism.

Nowhere is this conflict displayed better than at Dun Mountain near Nelson. Supposedly there’s gold in that there hill. But it also happens to be the site of one section of the John Key Memorial Cycleway. So what’s going to win out here? Tourism or mining?

It will be interesting to watch as the government retreats from areas that are too politically hot to mine and instead turns its attentions to areas that are just as important but it thinks will be softer targets. It may find itself in for a surprising coalition of opposition from tourism operators, tramping organisations, and local conservation groups.

15 comments on “The long game on mining”

  1. madnessinc 1

    I thought you were just against mining in schedule 4, are we against all mining now ?

    • Michael Foxglove 1.1

      I think Marty’s against screwing the scrum in favour of mining companies.

      That’s what the Tories are doing by giving Brownlee the power to have a say over what’s mined. Can you imagine Brownlee turning down a mining permit?

    • lprent 1.2

      I’m not in favor of screwing the safeguards because Brownlee thinks it is a good idea. Frankly the guy appears to be too stupid to understand the issues.

      Schedule 4 was designed to prevent mining where it was established. I can’t see any reason to change that. National parks are largely covered by schedule 4.

      In other conservation lands the presumption should be that they are not mined unless the benefit to the public good of NZ is examined carefully. That means in almost all cases it is unlikely that mining will take place, simply because while it is easy to show that mining is good for the miners, it is a lot harder to show that it is good for NZ.

      Mining on private land is just subject to the mining acts and the RMA. That is the majority of NZ, and as far as I can see, has been largely unprospected since the 1960/70’s.

    • Marty G 1.3

      I’m not against all mining

  2. Michael Foxglove 2

    Good stuff Marty. That Key’s mining plan might destroy one of the areas of the cycleway is a perfect representation of his commitment to tourism – zero.

  3. Tigger 3

    And the Maori Party think what? You’re being very quiet there Tariana…

    Nice point Marty. And genius photochop.

  4. Cnr Joe 4

    Was the cycleway for tourism? I thought it was (was) for job creation and headlines?

  5. “It may find itself in for a surprising coalition of opposition from tourism operators, tramping organisations, and local conservation groups.”

    Good post marty

    I think tangata whenua should be added to that list. Maori have unique connections to the land and, really, where did all the conservation land come from anyway? To stop the mining, all groups must work together and it won’t succeed without maori. In other countries, indigenous people lead the fight against mining and exploitation of natural resources.

    I agree with using the loss of our green image and the financial consequences for tourism as counters to the mining arguments. But i worry that we are forgetting that nature is valuable because it is nature. Protecting our wild places is important for the intrinsic value those places have.

    I’m all for using everything and anyone to stop this insane mining plan so keep up the good work.

  6. burt 6

    I don’t really want mines approved in our National Parks as happened under Labour. Dun Mountain is already a cycleway of sorts and attracts a lot of riders and walkers as it stands today. I went for a ride up there a few years back and the old railway route provides an excellent track from riding.

    It would be a pity to see it mined but please don’t claim Dun Mountain is pristine wilderness, there use to be trains ripping through them hills as well.

  7. burt 7

    You have listed 12 areas, do you think that will be more than 218 permits on DOC land or less. If it is less than 218 permits on DOC land over 9 years will you be saying it is excellent that National didn’t approve as much mining on DOC land as Labour did or will you quickly forget the reality of what Labour approved because it is unthinkable that National could be allowed to behave like Labour did.

    • lprent 7.1

      What were the permits for, that you claim were issued during the Labour administration? Prospecting, mining, or cleanup of mining? If you don’t have details then why are you asking the question? They could have been for removing old mining equipment or for shoring up old mine shafts.

      Were any on schedule 4 land? Probably not because that would have been illegal. Unlike National who wants to remove schedule 4 cover so they can issue those permits..

      Since you’re relying on it for whatever argument you are making, you’ll have those details to hand, and can provide us with a links of the details..

      Basically Brownlee is bullshitting without details… Try and find a link to support that claim. The interesting part is in the detail rather than some stupid number.

      Looks like you’ve been sucked in big time. Don’t be a total dickhead spinning lines here…

    • Marty G 7.2

      I’ve had a look into this and it seems you have lots of permits for each actual mine that happens. I’m trying to get something more definitive.

      But there aren’t 200-odd mines on DoC land

  8. vto 8

    Mining, the long game alright. Ever since the first opposing finger used its inaugural movement to pick up a rock …

    the second or third oldest industry

  9. gobsmacked 9

    Minister of Conservation, Kate Wilkinson, speaking on TV3 tonight:

    “Obviously we are not going to mine the stunning, iconic places of New Zealand.”

    Gerry Brownlee, same programme: says there’s a very good chance Great Barrier will be opened up for mining.

    So it’s official: Great Barrier Island, not stunning, not iconic (See also Stewart Island, etc, etc …).

    Good to know.

  10. Let’s not forget the insane plans to destroy precious huge ecosystems under water as the mining tycoons are increasing their bids to research and stocktaking on what’s in the blacksands from Auckland to Taranaki. The idea is to mine for black sand containing ore and other heavy metals useful for the Military industrial complex and all in the exact zone that contains more life than anywhere else in the oceans fragile ecosystem.

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