New Minerals Strategy Out – and it’s not good…

The new Government Minerals and Petroleum Strategy is ‘backward and disappointing’.

It is a lost opportunity to shift the focus away from the conventional mining we currently allow – that compromises our environmnet – to the re use of minerals from electronic waste.

We hoped the Government had moved away from the contradictory rhetoric of sustainable mining of the environment and was ready to lead on what is known as “urban mining” in other countries. The new Strategy document is unfortunately the same outdated approach of ‘mine more, more, more’ that we have been seeing for years.  It is deeply disappointing that New Zealand continues to compromise our environment for gold when there is simply no need.

The Minerals Strategy talks a lot about minerals needed in phones and new technologies, but instead of looking to promote reuse and recycling from the vast electronic waste now being produced, its proposing more mining of the earth. The rhetoric around encouraging new mining, that it is sustainable, is hugely disappointing.

Although the Strategy refers to the Government commitment to a ban on mining on the Conservation lands the promised public consultation process to advance this issue is two years overdue. We have asked, written, lobbied – even asked at public fora like Conferences – when will it be out? The answer is always in a couple of months.

While we wait for action on that Government promise, the gold mining industry continues to actively drill for gold on Conservation land and a huge mining consent application is being planned for the DOC forest behind Whangamata – where Oceana has just lidged a mining permit application over more than 5000 hectares of high value conservation land…

This Minerals Strategy is no help to communities because it has no sign of environmental protection and doesn’t adequately address climate issues. Not only is it not fair on the communities of the area, but it is not fair on the company – there is no clear signal to the mining industry that they are wasting resources on exploration in places like Hauraki/Coromandel.

Further, if is a major worry that this document is supposed to inform the review of the Crown Minerals Act. It seems to continue the previous Governments approach – to promote mining, rather than regulate it. Government cannot have it both ways. They cannot talk about protection of the environment and still be fostering the mining industry.

We will be urging the public to make their views of this backward and disappointing Strategy known to Government, through the submission process that is open until the 20 Spetember.

The time for business as usual while promoting double speak is over for the mining industry. The future is in re use of minerals, reducing support of industries with significant carbon footprints, moving toward a circular economy, and we expect the Government to lead on this. Hard rock gold mining is totally outdated, for one thing, and for another – the Coromandel is so beautiful it attracts a huge number of people – not likely to happen if industrial mining were to establish here!

So, if you are so inclined, take a look at the Strategy, read through, jot down your thoughts and get it in – think about how it might affect the review of the Crown Minerals Act… we need to change that, and we need to do it now. The purpose cannot, must not and should not be to ‘promote’ mining, and Schedule 4 needs to be clear that it is on, in or under any conservation land – not just above ground!