Straterra welcomes decision to grant consent for Te Kuha coal mine
Straterra welcomes the decision from the West Coast Regional Council and the Buller District Council to grant Stevenson Mining a resource consent for the Te Kuha coal mine.
The Te Kuha mine will produce coking coal. This type of coal attracts a premium over thermal coal – thermal coal is used for electricity generation and industrial heat in New Zealand and globally. Coking coal is an essential input in the production of steel, and demand for New Zealand coking coal from steel manufacturing companies in Asia in particular is strong.
The case for supplying this coal from New Zealand is also strong.
Coking coal from New Zealand competes on the international market. Demand will be met from New Zealand, or from other jurisdictions. We can choose to mine ourselves, or we can choose to let others deal with the tradeoffs inherent in any mining operation.
The RMA provides a robust and independent consenting regime, which considers applications on their merits. The decision from the Councils to grant consent demonstrates that the mine proposal is able to be managed in a way that meets the environmental standards set be society. We would argue that the standards we set in New Zealand are higher than those many other mining companies are required to meet in other jurisdictions.
We note the Council’s statement that “Undoubtedly there would be adverse effects, but those adverse effects would be tempered considerably over time by the mitigation, rehabilitation and compensation measures proposed.” This statement reflects the trade-offs that occur in any development, whether it be for forestry, windfarms or a residential subdivision.
Investment in mining creates high paying jobs, in the regions. The average salary in the mining sector is $102,100 a year, almost twice the national average wage, and the petroleum and minerals sector has the highest labour productivity of any sector in New Zealand, at $333 per hour worked.
We note that economic mineral deposits are located in very few places, and as global demand for resources increases and existing mines deplete, new mines are becoming harder to find. A mine creates very high value from a relatively small footprint. The Te Kuha project will cover an area of 144 hectares, and lead to direct benefits of an estimated 58 full time jobs and mining expenditure of $28 million per annum. It is estimated that indirect benefits include a further 118 jobs and increased expenditure of $23.9 million per annum in the West Coast region.