Mining is part of New Zealand’s heritage – symbolised on the national Coat of Arms - and is a significant part of our economy today. The industry, including oil and gas, employs directly and indirectly around 14,800 people, providing, for example, one-third of household income on the West Coast of the South Island. It is a dominant employer in Waihi.
Mining is also an essential industry. Minerals are integral to every aspect of our lives. They are a direct or indirect component of everything New Zealanders consume, whether produced locally or sourced from abroad. As the saying goes – “if you haven’t grown it, you have to dig it.”
Many mines in New Zealand are quarries, and most of these produce aggregates for local roading and construction. NZ coal and ironsands are made into steel at Glenbrook (1200 staff), some of which is used in wind farm construction.
Coal is controversial, however, and for good reason - it contributes to climate change. But it is not possible to stop coal mining in NZ without a plan for a transition to alternative sources of energy and as a source of carbon in steel-making. Coal is an essential source of industrial heat in dairy, timber, wood, and wool processing, and in horticulture, and in large institutions such as hospitals.
Straterra believes mining in NZ should be celebrated and encouraged, as integral to our way of life in the 21st Century, as benefiting the economy and society, and as carried out in an environmentally-responsible way.
Yet, industry acknowledges the body of New Zealanders who are concerned about mining. We accept they are entitled to voice their concerns in the media and elsewhere.
There are legitimate issues to do with climate change, health & safety, the environment, iwi interests and aspirations, communities, and the economy. The issues are complex and interwoven. There is an informed discussion to be had.
Straterra participates actively in public policy and legislative processes, and in public debate, and seeks to do so in a reasoned and reasonable way.
Straterra believes the majority of New Zealanders are interested in the issues. Opinion polls conducted by Pauline Colmar (formerly of Colmar Brunton) in 2012 and 2013 suggest strongly this is the case. In the following pages, we discuss the most commonly-expressed concerns around mining, in the belief that sunlight is the best disinfectant – the facts and evidence must be allowed to speak for themselves.