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Mt Burnett dolomite quarry extension declined

12 March 2004 - Wellington
MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Mt Burnett dolomite quarry extension declined

Forest and Bird welcomes today's decision by Conservation Minister Chris Carter to decline an application by Omya NZ Ltd to extend its dolomite quarry onto conservation land on Mt Burnett in Golden Bay.

"The expansion of the quarry would have destroyed the habitat of rare giant land snails and more than twenty indigenous plant species. Three of these species are unique to Mt Burnett and another fourteen are restricted to north-west Nelson," Kevin Hackwell, Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager, says.

Department of Conservation scientist, Dr Geoff Rogers has said of Mt Burnett; "no other area in New Zealand is judged to have greater floristic endemism or biogreographic significance at such a restricted scale."

"The mine's existing earthworks and quarrying have introduced weeds such as Mexican daisy, gorse and buddleia to the area. The new road proposed by Omya NZ Ltd would have caused further habitat loss and may have worsened the weed problems in the area," Mr Hackwell says.

While Forest and Bird is welcoming the Minister's decision on Mt Burnett, Mr Hackwell says that unfortunately this is overshadowed by the Minister's decision earlier today to grant access for the Pike coal mine in another ecologically important area.

"It is disappointing the Minister's concern for the protection of Mt Burnett's special indigenous plants and wildlife did not extend to the Pike valley and Paparoa Range. The Pike valley is habitat for ten threatened species, Pike Stream is a pristine waterway, there is distinctive stunted coal measure vegetation on the crest of the Paparoa Range, and the escarpment which forms the boundary of Paparoa National park is a dramatic natural feature. These will be threatened by the expansion of the Pike coal mine," Mr Hackwell says.

Notes for media

Dolomite is essentially limestone enriched with magnesium carbonate. It is quarried principally for farm fertiliser but is also used for flood protection and coastal erosion fill, and as metal chip for driveways - these are all uses where alternative materials are readily available.

Three plant species exist only on Mt Burnett including- the critically endangered sedge Carex dolomitica, and Myrsine argentea, a tree of the violet family. There are possibly another four to six unnamed endemic species. Fourteen Mt Burnett plants are endemic to north-west Nelson or have unusual variations only found in this area. A rare endemic land snail (Powelliphanta gilliesi gillesi) also lives in the proposed quarry area.

Ends


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