If the government’s experts are to be believed, most of this country’s mineral wealth is on private land ($80 billion of $194 billion is on the conservation estate). And there would be nothing like the public reaction to mining on private land that there is on protected conservation land.
So, why the mad plan to take those limited parts of the conversation estate that have been specifically protected from mining because of their outstanding natural value and let mining companies come in to rip them up?
Obviously, National just wants to do favours for its mining industry allies. So, why would the mining companies be so keen on this particular land – what’s so different about mining on public land when there is so much sitting on private land?
If a mining company came to you and said ‘there’s gold under your property, we want to dig it up’ you might say a flat ‘no’ or you might say ‘ok, for a price’. You’re not just other people come in to your land, dig up the value beneath and walk away with the profits. You’re going to make sure you get a slice of the action with a lease or something similar.
That’s going to eat into the mining companies’ profits. But if they mine on public land, in all National’s protestations of the benefits of mining have you heard them mention leases? No. Sure, the miners pay a royalty on the minerals but they pay that if the minerals are on private land too.
Mining on private land: Sales revenue minus production costs minus lease minus royalty minus corporate tax minus = profits
Mining on public land: Sales revenue minus production costs minus royalty minus corporate tax minus = bigger profits
That’s what’s so important mining in protected land. It’s not that they couldn’t get the minerals elsewhere, it’s that it wouldn’t make them so much money.
Essentially, they’re playing us for saps and bigger profits. Once again, National is campaigning for the privatisation of public wealth.