Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Bathurst gets tentative nod for Denniston mine plan

Bathurst gets tentative nod for Escarpment Mine, Forest and Bird still fighting

By Pattrick Smellie and Paul McBeth

March 28 (BusinessDesk) - Would-be coking coal miner Bathurst Resources has gained tentative approval from the Environment Court to go ahead with its Escarpment Mine project on the West Coast's Denniston Plateau, though environmental groups say they will continue to fight the plan.

The decision is a rare piece of good news for Bathurst, whose chairman last year bemoaned New Zealand's resource consent appeals process last year. Consents for Escarpment were first granted in August 2011, but ran immediately into appeals by environmental groups determined to stop the project.

The Royal New Zealand Forest & Bird Society said it plans to keep fighting the proposal, citing the Environment Court's determination that the open-cast Escarpment development can only go ahead, subject to appropriate protections for parts of the plateau.

Forest & Bird has staked considerable resources on the fight. It argues it has allowed state-owned Solid Energy to mine similar territory in the North Buller region, making protection of the southern Buller plateau all the more important.

However, Bathurst chief executive Hamish Bohannan told BusinessDesk he hoped now that the court-ordered process for carving out protected areas on the disputed plateau, which has seen coal mining in the past and has areas of ecological significance, would see the company and environmental groups agree a common position.

The court has given parties to the appeal until April 19 to agree a timetable for the process of turning the large number of environmental protections recommended by expert witnesses into a plan to allow mining in some areas and protection for others.

"We have proposed as part of a bigger plan that an area be set aside for conserving the ecology there. The court has said 'great idea, it needs to be locked in'," said Bohannan. "Most of the plateau won't be mined."

A second important leg of the arrangements was to agree how rehabilitation would occur after mining was completed.

"What the experts have done is use words like 'should' and 'shall'. What the judge wants to see is 'will' and 'must'," said Bohannan. "

The court's interim decision indicated it is likely to approve the project. Bathurst needs to ensure existing vegetation would be re-established and mechanisms be put in place to permanently protect 745 hectares of land on the plateau.

"The decision summarises weeks of detailed technical evidence and produces a well balanced view," Bohannan said. "Bathurst is now reviewing the detail of the decision and will respond to the court's request to finalise the details of conditions so development can start as soon as possible."

Bathurst has faced two separate clauses of action, one of which has gone up to the Supreme Court as objectors seek to have climate change effects of coal mining considered under the Resource Management Act. That argument has failed in the lower courts so far.

Meanwhile, the company has faced criticism and impatience, particularly from Australian shareholders accustomed to less complex resource consenting processes

Forest & Bird plans to keep opposing the project, while observing the interim court decision "indicates an inclination to grant consent if appropriate conditions can be devised."

"As a positive, the court agrees that the values of the Denniston Plateau are very high and many of these values, including rare plants and wildlife, will be lost if the mining goes ahead," Forest & Bird top of the south field officer Debs Martin said in a statement.

"The court also agreed with our case that after mining has ceased, the forests, streams and sandstone pavements of the plateau will be much less rich and diverse than they are now," she said.

Bathurst's shares sank 7 percent to 40 cents yesterday, and have dropped 14 percent this year.

(BusinessDesk)


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop Business: RBNZ Starts Talks On Tougher Rules For Property Speculators

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is stepping up preparations to restrict lending to residential property investors as it watches house prices, particularly in Auckland, continue to rise strongly. More>>

ALSO:

Research: ‘Ageing Well’ Science Challenge Launched

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today launched the Ageing Well National Science Challenge, confirming initial funding of $14.6 million. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Govt Resisting Pressure To Pump More Cash Into Solid Energy

Prime Minister John Key says it is “not the government’s preferred option” to make a fresh capital injection into the troubled state-owned coal miner, Solid Energy, but dodged journalists’ questions at his weekly press conference on whether that might prove necessary... More>>

ALSO:

Lagest Ever Privacy Breach Award: NZCU Baywide Accepts “Severe” Censure In Cake Case

NZCU Baywide says that once it was found to have committed a breach of a former staff member’s privacy, it had attempted to resolve the matter... the censure and remedies for its actions taken almost three years ago are “severe” but accepted, and will hopefully draw a line under the matter. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: PayPal Stops Processing Mega Payments; NZX Listing Still On

PayPal has ceased processing payments for Mega, the file storage and encryption firm looking to join the New Zealand stock market via a reverse listing of TRS Investments, amid claims it is not a legitimate cloud storage service. More>>

ALSO:

Housing Policy: Auckland Densification As Popular As Ebola, English Says

Finance Minister Bill English said calls by the Reserve Bank Governor for more densification in Auckland’s housing were “about as popular in parts of Auckland as Ebola” would be. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news