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Mining Industry Could Create 12,000 New Jobs

New Zealand's minerals and mining industry could create 12,000 new jobs and inject a further $1 billion in to the economy annually if Government policy was amended to encourage industry growth.

NZ Minerals Industry Association executive director, Douglas Gordon, said a more vibrant mining and minerals industry would generate an increase in annual GDP equivalent to more than the entire fishing industry.

"This Government is pushing for economic development and industrial growth.

"We can contribute quite significantly to that goal. Creating 12,000 new jobs, mainly in rural areas where there is high unemployment now, would certainly have an impact."

The mining and minerals industry has a current annual production value of around $1 billion. This could increase by another $1 billion annually by 2010 given the right commercial and legislative framework.

The industry contributes approximately $400 million to New Zealand's annual export earnings. That figure could grow to almost $1 billion by 2010

Mr Gordon said the industry has developed a national strategy that identifies the barriers to growth.

The strategy proposes a government-industry leveraged partnership that encourages more research and development. It also calls for changes to policies governing access to Crown-owned minerals on private and public land.

"Our meetings with Labour spokespeople indicate that Government might favour this approach. It would certainly dovetail with Mr Anderton's desire to generate much needed economic development in the regions."

As part of its growth plan, industry is calling for Government to up current spending on mining and minerals research and development from under $3 million annually to approximately $26 million a year. In turn, industry would increase its investment from $15 million to $60 million annually.

"There's little point in industry upping its commitment under current conditions. We need a legislative environment that will make that investment worth while."

New Zealand hosts over 600 known mineral deposits of 25 different types within an area of 270,000km2.

A recent study by the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences conservatively values New Zealand's metallic minerals resources alone at over $85.5 billion, with additional growth potential for industrial minerals ands coal.

Issued on behalf of the NZ Minerals Industry Association by Sigma Group (Wellington) Limited (Daniel Paul), tel. (04) 472-8961.

For further information contact Douglas Gordon, tel. (04) 499-9871.

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