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December 03, 2009

Bad Faith in Mining Negotiations — Government Kept Review Secret.

The Ministry of Economic Development (MED) acted in extreme bad faith in an Environment Court assisted mediation regarding mining on the Coromandel Peninsula, says Coromandel Watchdog spokesperson Denis Tegg.

The mediation was held in April, May, and June this year to resolve the status of mining in conservation land on the Coromandel Peninsula in the Thames Coromandel District Council’s District Plan.  Coromandel Watchdog, (with assistance from the Environmental Defence Society), and the Council were also parties to the mediation.

But MED, on behalf of the Government, failed to disclose to Watchdog and the Council that in December 2008 it had been asked by its Minister Gerry Brownlee to undertake a review of Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act.  Schedule 4 currently protects all conservation land and coast on the Coromandel Peninsula north of the Kopu -Hikuai Road from mining. The MED Review paper to Mr. Brownlee was completed on 22 July 2009, just a few days after the consent order from the mediation was agreed upon. And the paper specifically mentions the Coromandel Peninsula as an area which could be opened to mining.

“MED has clearly acted in extreme bad faith by keeping the Crown Minerals Review secret from Watchdog and the Council during the Environment Court assisted  mediation,”  said Watchdog spokesman Denis Tegg.

“About 50% of the Coromandel Peninsula is protected from mining by Schedule 4.  If Watchdog had known that Schedule 4 protection was being re-considered by the Government, it would never have agreed in mediation to forego prohibited activity status for mining in the conservation estate on the Coromandel Peninsula under the District Plan.  The outcome of the mediation would have been totally different if this information had been disclosed, as it should have been.”

“The negotiations were held in confidence and were sub judice under the auspices of the Environment Court, so there was no legitimate reason for MED to keep the Review secret.”

“The withholding of critical information by MED from other parties is the worst possible example of Government acting in bad faith, and is deplored,” said Mr Tegg.

Copy of  MED Review Paper on Schedule 4 here

Environment Court Practice Notes  on Court assisted Mediation including an obligation on all parties to act in good faith (