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No fanfare for start of Govt’s Resource Strategy

No fanfare for start of Govt’s Resource Strategy for petroleum and minerals

First published in Energy and Environment on April 25, 2019.

Without any fanfare the Government has begun the development of a “Resource Strategy for petroleum and minerals”.

Officials have begun developing the initial stages of the Resource Strategy with the “input of Treaty partners and other interested parties”, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

“The proposed Resource Strategy will be a 10-year strategy that will articulate the Government’s long term vision for the petroleum and minerals sector in NZ and support the transition to a low emissions future and a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy.

“A draft version will go out for public consultation in the middle of 2019 to provide everyone with the opportunity to discuss how NZ can sustainably derive value from its petroleum and minerals resources.

“The Resource Strategy will be used to underpin a review of the Crown Minerals Act 1991. The review of the legislation is to ensure it is fit for purpose to meet the needs of all NZers and a discussion document is due to be released in late 2019.

“Further information and advice on how to have your say will be provided in the coming months as the strategy is developed,” MBIE said.

The Government is also currently working on its Just Transition policy – which seeks to find a way to reduce the economic impact of the move from oil and gas – and a Hydrogen Roadmap – which some ministers currently favour as one of the alternative fuels to fill the energy gap.

Since the Government announced the end of new oil and gas exploration permits outside of onshore Taranaki it has been promising a wider review of the Crown Minerals Act. This is not only around the future of the petroleum sectors, but also the wider minerals sector.

Earlier this year Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods said, “there is a need to look at the wider Crown Minerals Act and ensure that it is future-proofed to meet the needs of all NZers.”

National MPs have said this is code for further restrictions on all mining activities and the subject is a matter of some tension between the Government parties. To contrast this Woods also promoted the mineral prospecting for rare earth minerals some of which is on the Conservation Estate and a number of prospecting permits have been released. Woods also angered the Greens by extending existing oil and gas exploration drilling permits which were about to expire due to a lack of activity. The Greens have been pushing for a ban on all new mines on the Conservation estate, but have not been able to get a discussion document past Cabinet for release, though it was due late last year.

Earlier this year NZ First MP Mark Patterson spoke about the development potential still in NZ – “Gold, silver, coal still a major mineral mined. There are of course massive phosphate deposits off the Chatham Rise, which are potentially bought into play at a future date”. He said there were deposits of uranium and thorium throughout Southland.

He also said National has failed to sort out the classification of the Department of Conservation’s stewardship land issue and “NZ First has been a firm advocate for looking at that land. There is some of it that is pristine conservation land, and we have to get that incorporated in our national parks, but there is also a considerable amount that is low-level scrub and very low-level conservation area at all. We need to be able to open that up for the likes of gold mining, etc.”

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones recently said he wanted to be the champion for the extractive sector in regional NZ: “I’m a pro-mining MP. I’m pro-fishing. I’m pro-farming. I’m pro-forestry. I’m from a pro-industry party.”

First published in Energy and Environment on April 25, 2019.

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