Minerals group Straterra attacks “absurd” decision to take Ministers to court over OceanaGold land purchase MEDIA RELEASE

Minerals group Straterra attacks “absurd” decision to take Ministers to court over OceanaGold land purchase

Posted on 4 February 2020

A community group’s decision to take Government ministers to court over a planned land purchase by OceanaGold is based on flawed logic, says Straterra CEO Chris Baker.

Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki is filing court papers against Ministers David Parker and Grant Robertson, over that decision to approve the purchase of land, to be used to build additional tailings storage.

OceanaGold was approved to buy the land in October, after Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage’s initial decision to block the purchase was reversed.

Watchdog of Hauraki group chair, former Green MP Catherine Delahunty, claims the new decision was flawed, and has been quoted as saying: 

“You can't keep promoting industries that produce a lot of fossil fuels and contaminate the environment," and "(Overturning the decision) showed bad faith and a willingness to promote mining without considering the greatest issue of our time, climate change.” 

However, Mr Baker, who leads the minerals sector industry body, points out that, as a gold miner, OceanaGold does not produce any fossil fuels. 

“Mining is not synonymous with climate change and Ms Delahunty is being mischievous in conflating the two,” he says.

“The rationale the group has given for filing court papers is frankly absurd. Not only does the company bring significant economic benefit through its activities in Hauraki, those activities are not in conflict with the government’s carbon neutrality goals at all.  Mining is, of course, a relatively energy intensive activity - so it matters where the energy used comes from - but nobody is suggesting, in New Zealand or globally, that we should be curbing activity because of that energy intensity. That is true globally and the arguments are more compelling in New Zealand because our electricity is mostly renewable. 

“The Ministers’ decision to support OceanaGold’s application secures well-paid jobs and export revenue and any environmental impacts will be assessed through the Resource Management Act (RMA) processes.”

The 180 hectares of land is intended for use to build dam capacity to safely store tailings from the process of extracting gold. 

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) had recommended the applications be approved and Ministers Robertson and Parker were satisfied the land purchase would result in substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealand because of the jobs and export revenue.

“Like Ms Delahunty, we also hope the court deals with the matter quickly,” added Mr Baker. “In order to provide clarity for OceanaGold, as a major employer in the region, and for people and communities that benefit from their presence in the Coromandel.”