Minerals vital to climate change plans
It was disappointing to see no mention of the crucial role the minerals and extractive sector will play in strengthening New Zealand’s resilience to climate change in the Government’s latest consultation, says Straterra CEO Josie Vidal.
Straterra has submitted on the Ministry for the Environment’s National Adaptation Plan and consultation document Building a climate-resilient Aotearoa New Zealand.
“It is important that New Zealand plans ahead and prepares for a changing climate, so we strongly support the adoption of a National Adaptation Plan in our submission,” Vidal says.
“To optimise the contribution the extractive sector makes to climate change adaptation, it is essential that extractive opportunities are available and accessible in New Zealand.
“We need a regulatory environment that recognises and supports this to ensure we can keep up with the rest of the world.
“Minerals and aggregates are needed to make infrastructure more resilient to future extreme weather events. They are required to build structures to protect against the sometimes deadly effects of strong storms, as well as sea level rise and increased flooding on our infrastructure, communities and ecosystems.
“Where climate impacts require relocation or retreat of communities, minerals and aggregates will be at the fore in the form of concrete, steel and other construction materials.
“Sand, limestone and aggregates are essential to make concrete. Coal and iron ore (including ironsands) are key ingredients of steel.
“Without even factoring in climate change adaptation, aggregate and mineral supply in New Zealand is already constrained. This is at a time when demand is forecast to increase as New Zealand builds more infrastructure to combat housing shortages and other shortfalls and boost the economy post Covid-19.
“It is better for New Zealanders and for our environment that what is available here is sourced here, rather than having to be imported. Because of our remote location, anything imported comes at a transport cost and with the cost of living the biggest thing most Kiwi households are worried about, it makes no sense to reject what is readily available.
“It must also be considered that there is the environmental burden of sourcing materials from a distance and getting them to New Zealand. That is counter-intuitive when the materials are available here and the goal is to reduce emissions.
“Mineral extraction in New Zealand is highly regulated so that associated environmental impacts are minimised. Where materials are imported, the same standards have not necessarily been applied,” Vidal says.
Straterra is the industry association representing New Zealand’s minerals and mining sector. You can read our submission here.