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

 


Bathurst gets nod for DoC access to Denniston mine

Bathurst gets nod for DoC access to Denniston mine

By Pattrick Smellie

May 23 (BusinessDesk) - Conservation Minister Nick Smith has approved access over conservation estate land for Bathurst Resources to develop an open cast coal mine on the Denniston Plateau, above Westport, to the dismay of environmental opponents.

The timing for Smith's move avoids Bathurst having to resubmit applications for access agreements under the revised Crown Minerals Act, which comes into force tomorrow and would have required public consultation.

The announcement lands in the middle of delicate negotiations between the company, environmental groups and other interested parties that could pave the way to a broader agreement on the Escarpment proposal, whose resource consents are still subject to court appeals.

Bathurst, whose shares were placed in a trading halt on the NZX and ASX overnight pending today's announcement, first applied for an access agreement from the Department of Conservation in 2008 and has faced the ire of its primarily Australian shareholder base over the protracted process in New Zealand for gaining a mining licence.

Resource consents for the Escarpment mine were granted in August 2011, but have been held up by appeals by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand and other environmental groups who oppose further mining on the ecologically fragile plateau, which has also hosted coal mines since the mid-19th century.

The outcome of those appeals has yet to be determined, although the Environment Court agreed in principle to Escarpment proceeding earlier this year, subject to Bathurst beefing up its environmental offsetting and restoration commitments.

“In giving this approval, I do not consider it is acceptable to open-cast mine all of the Denniston Plateau," said Smith. "The plateau does have unique biodiversity and landscape values from its raised elevation, high rainfall and unusual land form. I wish to see some of the high value areas reserved and put into permanent protection."

Today's decision does not appear to cover Bathurst's second proposed open-cast mine on the plateau, at Whareatea West, for which the company has not yet sought resource consents.

Forest & Bird's south field officer Debs Martin said she was "stunned" by the decision, which would be "effectively signing the death warrants of native animals."


However, Smith said the 106 hectares covered by the Escarpment proposal was not of significant conservation value on the 2,026 hectare plateau.

"This area is not national park, nor conservation park. Nor does it have any particular reserve status. It is general stewardship land, which is the lowest legal status of protection of land managed by the Department of Conservation.

"The area does have conservation values although there has been some disturbance from previous mining including roads, bulldozer tracks and an artificial reservoir. The area also has some infestation from weeds like gorse and broom,” Smith said.

Bathurst is targeting high-grade coking coal, used in steel-making rather than being burnt. Buller coking coal is highly sought after by global steel-makers because of its low sulphur and ash content.

Bathurst had also committed to spend $22 million on pest and predator control over 25,000 hectares of the nearby Heaphy River catchment in the Kahurangi National Park and 4,500 hectares on and around the Denniston Plateau, as well as funding historic projects on the plateau itself.

"This is the largest ever compensation package negotiated by DOC for a mine or other commercial venture."

Smith said he was "encouraged by the constructive discussions that have been taking place between mining companies, environmental, historic and recreational groups over recent months."

"A better way forward than having long protracted legal proceedings would be for the parties to come to a common agreement on the remaining areas of the plateau that should be set aside permanently for conservation and for mining.

“The Government will be working with all parties to try and find a ‘bluegreen’ long term plan for the whole Denniston Plateau that balances conservation protection with the need for jobs and development,” Smith said.

Bathurst's South Buller mining plan sees the company taking around 1 million tonnes a year over five years from Escarpment, with Whareatea West contributing another million tonnes. It is targeting production of 4 million tonnes a year once two other mine projects in the North Buller are developed.

Bathurst shares last traded at 22 cents, having traded as high as $1.75 in April 2011, reflecting deteriorating investor sentiment as the would-be miner's resource consent and access problems have dragged on.

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Keep Digging: Seabed Ironsands Miner TransTasman Tries Again

The first company to attempt to gain a resource consent to mine ironsands from the ocean floor in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone has lodged a new application containing fresh scientific and other evidence it hopes will persuade regulators after their initial application was turned down in 2014. More>>

Wool Pulled: Duvets Sold As ‘Premium Alpaca’ Mostly Sheep’s Wool

Rotorua business Budge Collection Limited (Budge) and sole director, Sun Dong Kim, were convicted and fined a total of $71,250 in Auckland District Court after each pleading guilty to four charges of misrepresenting how much alpaca fibre was in their duvets. More>>

Reserve Bank: Labour Calls For Monetary Policy To Expand Goals

Labour's comments follow a speech today by RBNZ governor Graeme Wheeler in which Wheeler sought to answer critics who variously say he should stop lowering interest rates, lower them faster, or that inflation-targeting should no longer be the primary goal of the central bank's activities. More>>

ALSO:

BSA Extension And Sunday Morning Ads: Digital Convergence Bill Captures Online Content

Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams has today announced the Government’s plans to update the Broadcasting Act to better reflect today’s converged market... The Government considered four areas as part of its review into content regulation: classification requirements, advertising restrictions, election programming and contestable funding. More>>

ALSO:

March 2017: Commerce Commission Delays Decision On Fairfax-NZME

The Commerce Commission has delayed its decision on the proposed merger between NZME and Fairfax Media's New Zealand assets, saying the deal is complex and it needs more time to assess the impact on both news content and the advertising market. More>>

ALSO:

Plan Plan: Permanent Independent Hearings Panel Proposed For Planning

The Productivity Commission recommends creating a permanent independent hearings panel like the one that cut through local politics to settle Auckland’s Unitary Plan, for the whole country. More>>

ALSO:

Statistics: NZ Jobless Rate Falls To 5.1% Under New Methodology

New Zealand's unemployment rate fell more than expected in the second quarter as Statistics New Zealand adopted a new way of measuring the labour market to bring the country in line with international practices, and while a growing economy continued to support jobs growth. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news