Te Kuha decision another kick in the guts for the West Coast
Straterra, New Zealand’s minerals sector industry organisation, is hugely disappointed with the government’s decision to decline Stevenson Mining’s application to mine at Te Kuha.
Ministers have declined an access arrangement under the Crown Minerals Act to mine 12 hectares of public conservation land part of the company‘s 144 ha mining proposal in the area.
“This is a disappointing decision given the sizable economic benefits that would have accrued to the community from the mine and the small footprint of the mine in terms of environmental impact,” said Straterra CEO Chris Baker.
“Late last year the West Coast Regional Council and the Buller District Council granted a resource consent under the RMA. That decision clearly demonstrated that the overall mine proposal is able to be managed in a way that meets high environmental standards.
“Commissioners decided that the environmental costs for the 144 hectares are acceptable, but when it comes to the 12 hectares the minsters clearly have a different view.
“This decision comes on the back of the government’s proposal to ban new mining on conservation land - a proposal that we oppose, absolutely.
“In our opinion, such decisions are better made by an independent authority, such as the Environment Court. This decision politicises that process. Proposals to mine, or for any other resource based economic activity, on conservation land and private land alike should be considered on a case by case basis depending on their relative merits and environmental impacts.
“It is also relevant that there are no emissions reductions for New Zealand, or the planet, resulting from this decision.
“The Te Kuha mine would produce coking coal which 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. Reducing coal exports has no impact on New Zealand emissions, and more importantly will not reduce global carbon emissions either as the steel will still be produced by overseas manufacturers and the coal will still be burned.
“The Te Kuha project would create around 60 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.
“These are significant numbers for the West Coast region which are now put at risk. It is a real and totally unnecessary kick in the guts for a region which has faced a lot of adversity in recent years,” Mr Baker concluded.