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Mining of national parks back on Government agenda

Energy and Resources Spokesperson
Mining of national parks back on Government agenda

Mining in some of New Zealand’s most precious national parks appears to be back on the Government’s agenda despite promises the areas wouldn’t be touched, Labour’s Energy and Resources spokesperson Moana Mackey says.

“It is deeply concerning that eight consents have been granted to Newmont Gold and Addison Mines to prospect for coal and other minerals on protected Schedule Four land in Coromandel and the Paparoa National Park.

“Despite being forced into an embarrassing back-down on this issue in 2010 it appears National has simply changed tactics in order to achieve its original intention of mining Schedule Four land and is now progressing the activity under the guise of ‘scientific research’.

“Conservation Minister Nick Smith’s claim that the prospecting is not about mining, but is rather a means to research the geological features of these areas is not credible.

“No company would not be spending time and money investigating the mineral potential of this land simply out of scientific curiosity. They have clearly been given a signal by Government that mining of these areas is back on the table.

“This is even more worrying in light of changes to the Crown Minerals Act, which aims to ‘promote’ rather than just manage minerals exploration and extraction and gives mining and prospecting a huge advantage over all other activities carried out on Department of Conservation land.

“The Bill removes the sole decision-making power for allowing access for mining on conservation land from the Minister of Conservation, who now has to share that role with the Minister of Energy despite the obvious conflict of interest. It also allows Cabinet to remove or reclassify the protection status of land, meaning land could potentially be removed from national parks.

“Kiwis sent a strong message to the Government in 2010 that our most precious conservation lands are not to be touched. The Government claimed to have listened to those concerns but clearly it is now reneging on that promise.

“National’s dilemma is that it has no other plan for economic development and reducing unemployment. It has put all its eggs in the basket of fossil fuel and minerals extraction and today’s revelation simply shows how desperate it is to pursue that agenda.”

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