Opencast coal mine hearing underway in Westport

A resource consent hearing began in Westport on Monday 18 September to consider Stevenson Mining Limited’s proposed Te Kuha mine, which would remove a mountaintop visible from Westport. Te Kuha provides a habitat for several plant and animal species at risk or threatened with extinction, including South Island fernbird, geckos, and 17 plant species including the native eyebright.

Non-government organisation Forest & Bird warns that emissions resulting from potential new coal mines would equate to increasing New Zealand’s annual emissions by 10%. It says  that ministerial briefing papers obtained under the OIA show proposals for mining up to 62 million tonnes of coal on the Buller plateau over 20 years, which, when burnt, would produce 186 million tonnes of CO2.

Forest & Bird will present their submission arguing the significant ecological losses mean the consent should be declined, next Monday. A council report also recommends declining the application because of insufficient information, particularly on the measures to address acid mine drainage, which occurs when mining exposes sulfide minerals and sulphuric acid is formed.

Image Credit – Neil Silverwood