Greens shaft Te Kuha mine

Where is Shane Jones when you need him? Oh, that’s right. He’s too busy slagging off Fonterra and trying to get elected in Whangarei. Quote:

A controversial application to mine coal on conservation land on the West Coast has been declined by the Government.

The company behind the mining proposal said the announcement was “just another kick in the teeth” for the West Coast community, while environment groups have celebrated the decision as one “future generations of New Zealanders will be thankful for”. End quote.

I wish journalists would do some proper research. There was never any application to mine on conservation land. The application was for access across conservation land, to allow the mining to go ahead. The mine was already consented. Quote:

The company still has access to about 96hectares of reserve surrounding the conservation land that it could develop. However, it had indicated the mine would not be economically viable without the higher-grade coal within the conserved area.

The mine was estimated to provide about 60 jobs to the region but would have done “irreparable damage to an area with very high, unique and nationally significant conservation values”, a joint statement released on Saturday by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Energy Resources Megan Woods. End quote.

No, it wouldn’t. Anyone who has been to that part of the country well knows that all mining is done in an environmentally responsible manner, and conservation is a top priority. The Coast has a growing tourist industry and coal mining in the same area. The rivers and streams are sparkling, the air is beautifully clear, and the Charming Creek Walkway, which starts at the entrance to the Stockton mine (but heads off in a different direction) gets more and more visitors every year. Quote:

“We have seen, with the major lay offs at Stockton [Mine], with the establishment of the Escarpment then being mothballed that coal has been a rollercoaster industry. It hasn’t provided long-term sustainable jobs.

“The economic benefits assessment for the mine showed it was at a poor risk with a perfect storm if operating costs were higher than anticipated, if there wasn’t as much coal as anticipated, and if coal prices continued to be at low levels.

“The economic benefits of the mine didn’t outweigh the permanent loss and destruction of conservation values.” End quote.

This is somewhat disingenuous.  The Escarpment was mothballed in 2012 because the coal price dropped to low levels. It was always intended to be revisited, and the coal price is significantly higher these days, meaning that if Te Kuha went ahead, the Escarpment would be re-established. Quote:

Stevenson Mining chief operating officer Anne Brewster said the decision was short sighted. Stevenson Mining is owned by Rangitira Developments. “We are very disappointed,” she said.

“The Government has made this decision and it is very short sighted … These decisions are made by people who have vested interests in the community.”

The Buller District Council had granted Stevenson Mining, part of Rangitira Developments, resource consent to mine the area in November. End quote.

Ever since the change of government, the Coast has been waiting for the axe to fall on Te Kuha. No one really expected a Green MP to allow a mining development to continue.

But the timing of this decision is very interesting. Last week, Eugenie Sage approved the sale of land under the Overseas Investment Act at Otakiri Springs to allow a Chinese water bottling plant to expand its operations. There was great dissension among the Green ranks, and in declining the Te Kuha access road application, Eugenie Sage shafts a New Zealand company and shows her true colours all in one very concise hit. Quote:

Brewster said the proposed mine area was very small. “There are thousands of hectares of conservation land on the West Coast and all we are asking for is 12 hectares.” End quote.

There are other options for access roads, but they are more expensive. Even if they opt for one, however, Stevenson’s Mining still has other problems. Quote:

The decision was welcomed by Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague as “a hugely significant, forward-thinking decision that future generations of New Zealanders will be thankful for”.

“This is intact, pristine forest with significant, rare plants that would be permanently destroyed by open-cast mining,” he said.

“We hope this heralds the end of this particular ill-advised proposal.” End quote.

The area is vast, and the ‘significant rare plants’ are not all concentrated in the 12 hectares that was being contested. There would be a negligible effect on the local environment. It was an access road, remember. The coal mine is not on conservation land. Quote:

Sage said she expected the decision would be “disappointing for many West Coast residents” but the Government’s $1 billion Provincial Growth Fund and the West Coast Bank offered opportunity for investment in other industries. End quote.

More hollow words from a Green MP. Most of the money from the Provincial Growth Fund will end up in Northland. Anyway, why spend public money in an area where a local business is prepared to invest? Answer: because there might be a snail somewhere. Quote:

Buller District Mayor Garry Howard said he wasn’t surprised by the decision but still couldn’t understand the logic behind it as the proposed site was only 12 hectares.

“The Department of Conservation has 1,596,000 hectares on the West Coast and this was just 12. It would be a commercial  venture that is only going to be operating on 144 hectares and an open pit of 10 hectares.

“Modern day mining is totally different to what historic mining has been. The restoration work is outstanding.” End quote.

When the question of mining was debated on TV a few years ago, then Green co-leader Russel Norman spoke glibly of the ‘clean green jobs’ that would replace mining. The people of the Coast are still waiting for those ‘clean green jobs’ to materialise. Russel Norman didn’t care about the people of the Coast. He was merely sidestepping the question of whether his policies would deprive families of making a living. Now Eugenie Sage has done the same. But make no mistake. She has done this to save her reputation among the Green Party membership, who showed less than a year ago how quickly they can turn on and savage their own people.

Shame the families of Westport had to be the sacrificial lamb in this particular barbeque.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

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