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Greens Relieved By Sensible Mine Decision

18 August 2001

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said she was relieved that Conservation Minister Sandra Lee has turned down an application for an extension to a West Coast Gold mine on the Conservation estate.

The application by GRD Macraes to expand to 260 hectares an open cast gold mine with a 36 hectare tailings dam for toxic waste in the Victoria Conservation Park near Reefton was declined last night.

"While we recognise that this is a courageous decision when so many are pushing for more extractive industries on the Coast, we believe it is entirely consistent with the Conservation Act and we are glad to see a Minister giving the Act the teeth it was always meant to have," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Since the initial consent was given for a much smaller operation in 1993 this is the third time the company has sought to vary the conditions, each time wanting more, while the original consent has never been implemented.

"This sort of incrementalism has got to be stopped somewhere and we are glad it has been stopped here," she said.

"Given the unstable geography of the proposed site - including 12 active faults within 50 kilometres of the site - and high annual rainfall of 2.2 metres per annum - an approval for this mine would have been an unacceptable risk.

"If the tailings dam had slipped, the Inanguhua and Buller rivers would have been exposed to risk of serious pollution from a range of heavy metals," she said.

"The loss of habitat for robins, kakariki, kaka and kereru which are no longer abundant is also unacceptable.

"The Greens have been watching this decision with a great deal of interest. Having seen first hand the problems of a slipping tailings dam in my Coromandel electorate I am really pleased and relieved that this Government have put the long-term health of the environment and ecosystems above short-term economic interests," she said.

"The challenge for this Government is to provide real, long-term jobs which are sustainable and protect the environment. This application did neither of these things," said Ms Fitzsimons.

Ends


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