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Pike River "damning mining report" Refuted: DOC

DOC strongly refutes claims about "damning mining report" for Pike River

The Department of Conservation has strongly rebutted claims that it had produced a "damning report" on the Pike River Coal proposal in the Paparoa mountain range north east of Greymouth, and that the DOC report urged the Minister to decline the proposal.

"This is simply not true and we made no recommendations to the Minister either way. We have done a very thorough professional job, using international experts, of analysing all the relevant issues, putting them in the context of the criteria of the Crown Minerals Act, and then quite properly leaving it up to the Minister to make the final decision" said DOC spokesperson Mike Slater

"Our very comprehensive report certainly stressed the high conservation values of the Pike River Valley, but its main focus was to analyse what impact the proposed mine would have on those conservation values.

" The report identified three major issues .These were the impact on natural values, the issues with subsidence and the difficulties with acid mine drainage.

Our report recognised the high botanical and bird values in the area but advised the Minister that there would only be a very localised impact on the botanical values of the area and that the impact on native species will be confined to a small area in a large habitat.

"On subsidence we drew on extensive independent consultation work to construct a whole series of safeguards to minimise the impacts of subsidence .We advised the Minister that the foreseeable adverse effects will be manageable and can be partially safeguarded against.

"In terms of acid mine drainage our international expert advised that the problems would be manageable and probably low, so long as we maintained very high standards of environmental protection," Mr Slater said.

The criteria by which the Minister made his decision are set out in the Crown Minerals Act 1991 (s61)(2) and they cover five main points; namely the act under which the land is held; the land status; the relevant management plans; the safeguards that could be used; and any other matters including compensation

"Applying this legal framework to the Pike River coal mining application, it is true that in terms of the Conservation Act, the status for which the land is held and the relevant management plans, the report acknowledged that mining would be inconsistent with the protections provided by these instruments. But this had to be weighed up by the minister against the partial safeguards regarding adverse impacts and the compensation package offered by the company.

"What did surprise us was the number of critics who had never even read the report before pronouncing judgement on it and us, without bothering to check any of the facts, or even ask us for a copy of the report, which we would have happily given them," Mr Slater said.

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