Conservation land “off limits” for mining

Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage has confirmed the incoming Government’s decision to protect public conservation land by making it off-limits for new mining ventures.

The announcement was made as part of the Speech from the Throne given at Parliament on Wednesday, which outlined the Government’s policy and legislative proposals.

Minister Sage noted that New Zealand’s current biodiversity crisis and the economics of open-cast mining from the triple bottom line perspective, undermine the case for new mines on protected lands.

Noting that mining destroys indigenous vegetation and habitats, permanently changes natural landscapes and can create sizeable waste rock dumps with a risk of acid mine drainage polluting waterways, Minister Sage said: “Places like the West Coast and Coromandel have diversified their economies on the back of their stunning natural beauty and landscapes… Coal mining adds to the climate crisis and new mines generally have a 15-year lifespan. Once the coal is gone, the jobs are gone and so is the unique environment of places like the West Coast – which is the basis of a sustainable economy and long-term jobs.”

She went further to say that coal mining on protected lands doesn’t feature in New Zealand’s future plans. “We need to build a sustainable, modern, clean green economy for all New Zealanders. New mines on our protected lands are not going to take us there. …Tourism on the West Coast is now responsible for more jobs than the mining sector. It’s crucial that we protect the very thing that draws visitors – unequalled beech and rimu forests, river valleys and a network of huts and tracks.”

Image credit: Neil Silverwood