Mining and New Zealand’s Conservation Estate
- There are currently 3.4 million hectares of New Zealand public conservation land listed on Schedule Four of the Crown Minerals Act 1991, including a sub-set of national parks, and 5.1 million hectares of conservation land not listed on Schedule Four
- In March 2010, the Government released a discussion paper suggesting some conservation land be released from Schedule Four of the Crown Minerals Act for possible availability for mining
- 40,000 people marched on Queen Street to protest mining on conservation land and 37,500 submissions were made. In response, the Government decided not to remove any land from Schedule Four, but all other conservation land was still at risk from mining
- There are currently 57 mines on conservation land
For further information on the above, click here.
Mining Given Preferential Treatment for Use of Conservation Land
- The legislation around mining and conservation and is problematic. There is reasonable protection for conservation land under the Conservation Act 1987, but in the Crown Minerals Act, mining was exempted and given a less rigorous consenting process. Further to that, the purpose of the Crown Minerals Act was changed in 2013 to be an Act to “promote” mining! We have been lobbying for this to change, and have been submitting on any opportunities to amend this bad legislation.
Coromandel and Gold Mining
- There are currently 12 mining exploration permits on the Coromandel Peninsula/Hauraki covering approximately 40,000 hectares of land – including offshore at Waihi Beach.
- There is also now, as of 2020, a significant mining permit over Public Conservation Land behind Whangamatā, above the Parakiwai Valley at Whrekirauponga. This area is a significant forest area, home to threatened species including a core habitat of the Archeys frog, the worlds most threatened frog.
- Coastal gems Opoutere and Onemana have also had drilling within Crown Forestry Land, and Oceana has plans to drill at Hikuai, gaining compliance consents from TCDC in 2020.
Mining Can Adversely Affect Our ‘Clean Green’ Reputation and associated national image
- Tourism makes a 10% contribution to national GDP versus mining, including oil, gas and coal which
makes up less than 1.5% of the Nation’s GDP (Stats NZ). It is safe to say that it is more likely that tourists are attracted to New Zealand for our beautiful, unique environment than for our mines!
The Promised Economic Benefits for Local Communities
- Newmont Waihi Gold, who were active on the Coromandel/Hauraki area until 2016, claimed to have spent $299 million in the Waihi area from 2006 – 2010, yet the town schools are ranked decile 3 or below, and Waihi has the lowest decile ranking in the social deprivation index of any Coromandel region town. To learn more…. There is also further discussion of the index here.
The Legacy of Mining for the New Zealand Taxpayer
- No royalties were paid on the Waihi Martha Open Pit Mine for a long time. Now they are the pittance that our Government asks, not more than 1% of whats taken.
- Newmont Waihi Gold’s Martha Mine has generated tailings approximately 300 times larger than those at the Tui mine. Using the Tui mine costings as a benchmark, if just 10% of the Martha mine tailings required similar remedial work in the future the cost to taxpayers would be approximately $500 million. Read more…
- Oceana Gold has provided bonds of approximately $30 million. But only a $10 million bond will be available in the long term, and even this is “reviewable”. About 10 years after mine closure, the mining company will hand title of the tailings dam to a local Trust, which we understand to comprise of Council and iwi, and the mining company will wipe its hands of any further liability. To learn more…
- Over the past few years, Oceana Gold has signaled a range of proposals which have culminated in the announcement of several major expansions in Waihi and the Southern Coromandel Forest Range Conservation land:
- a new toxic dam,
- a new rock storage facility (another toxic dump),
- a new open pit, a new underground mine under the old (collapsing) pit,
- the kicker – a mine underneath significant conservation land – a mine reached via a 6.8km tunnel through hard rock with high toxic mineral presence and a high water table;
- a tunnel that would go under streams in this ecosystem, necessitating the need to remove huge amounts of water from the system.
- New Talisman Gold Ltd, who have spent the last several years (unsuccessfully) trying to reopen the Talisman mine in the beautiful Mt Karangahake, has recently moved to acquire the family owned ‘hobby’ mine at Puketui, near Hikuai (over the Schedule 4 line).