Anti-mining bias demonstrated in overseas investment decision
MEDIA RELEASE 7 May 2019
Straterra, New Zealand’s minerals sector industry organisation, considers that the decision by the Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage to decline Oceana Gold’s application to purchase land adjacent to its Waihi mine under the Overseas Investment Act was based explicitly on her anti-mining ideology.
The application was declined by the Land Information Minister apparently on the grounds that the land would be better retained for dairying.
The Hon David Clark consented the application but under the Overseas Investment Act, consent is only granted if both Ministers give approval.
This is a major setback for the industry, for the local and regional economy and for all fair-minded New Zealanders. This decision is further evidence, if such was required, that Hon Eugenie Sage cannot be allowed to continue with portfolios where she has a history of activism.
Since purchasing the Waihi gold business from Newmont in 2015, it is apparent that OceanaGold has spent tens of millions of dollars at Waihi on exploration and development. That investment has been successful in discovering significant additional gold resources – Sage’s decision negates that investment. Without the land, mining will cease in 2028. With the land a new tailings dam will be built and, subject to satisfying all relevant regulations, mining will continue to 2036, and likely well beyond as additional resource discovery allows.
Our own estimate is that beyond 2030 more than 350 jobs are at stake as well as export revenue in the order of NZ$200 to 300 million per year.
We will be very interested to review the decision in detail but it is very hard to imagine how these jobs and associated taxes and expenditure in the local and regional community would not stack up as a ‘substantial and identifiable benefit’ when compared with what can be earned by farming the relatively small area in question.
No wonder the local community is up and arms about this as evidenced by comments from Hauraki District Mayor, John Tregidga.
We note it is the first time since the passage of the Overseas Investment Act in 2005 that the two decision making ministers have made different decisions. Well done Hon David Clark – but that is little comfort for those who want NZ jobs, for a government that needs revenue and for a country that values fair decisions based on science and evidence, not ideology.