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Greens question coal mine's environmental claims

Greens question coal mine's environmental claims

The Green Party has complained about what it believes is misleading advertising and a failure to warn investors of the financial risks in a private South Island coal mine.

"We believe Pike River Coal Company should warn potential investors that they are likely to be liable for a multi-million dollar bill for greenhouse gas emissions released during the mining process," Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"The Government has made it clear that it plans to introduce an across the board carbon price and this means Ma and Pa investors face additional financial risk. However, nowhere in Pike River's advertising for its current share offer, which closes on July 10, does it disclose this. In fact the advertising pamphlet describes the operation as having 'low environmental impact'.

"Pike River Coal plans to mine, for export, 17.6 million tonnes of hard coking coal over 20 years. This coal has been stored underground for millions of years and alongside it, tonnes of trapped methane. The mining process is predicted to release methane equivalent to about 6.8 million tonnes of CO2. This is more each year than is released by all the dairy cows on the West Coast. Even if the company were to flare some of this gas, there would still be significant emissions, which New Zealand is liable for under the Kyoto agreement. The Green Party has laid complaints with the Advertising Standards Complaints Board and the Commerce Commission over the pamphlet because it believes the low environmental impact claims are misleading and deceptive.

"Whatever way you look at it, it is ludicrous for a Pike to claim low environmental impact. This mine will contribute millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases to the planet's atmosphere, there will be a coal truck every four minutes through Greymouth, a road is being constructed in an ecological area on the conservation estate, and the mine was opposed by DOC and the Conservation Board.

The Party has also laid a complaint with the Securities Commission over the company's failure to disclose to potential investors the likely financial liability for the greenhouse gas emissions from the operation.

"The future price on carbon has been estimated at between $15 and $100/tonne. This would lead to a cost of between $100 million and $678 million over the life of the mine. That would be a significant impact on any returns to investors," Ms Fitzsimons says, "which the company should not attempt to conceal."


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