Solid Energy Intimidates Student Protestors
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Solid Energy intimidates student protestors
Students protesting the proposed Cypress mine near Westport were yesterday chased from the publicly-owned nearby Stockton mine amid verbal abuse and threats of legal action. Stockton mine is run by SOE Solid Energy and has an atrocious environmental record. Solid Energy is proposing the new Cypress mine.
"Solid Energy doesn't seem to want people to view the full extent of damage caused by their operations at their existing Stockton mine near Westport", says Rob Cadmus, spokesperson for a student group protesting against Solid Energy's proposed new Cypress Mine.
"Students involved in a protest at the site of the proposed mine adjacent to Stockton were chased from the existing mine site by angry mine staff amidst threats of trespass action and verbal abuse", he said.
"In spite of comments from West Coast Regional Council staff that Solid Energy's compliance with slack environmental conditions has been 'mixed', Buller Mayor Pat O'Dea has portrayed mining as a benign activity. So we thought we'd see for ourselves," he said
A group of five students approached the mine from their camp about one hour's walk away.
"As soon as Solid Energy staff became aware of our presence, vehicles approached from all directions like a scene from a Mad Max movie. Although we were hundreds of metres away from any operations, and posed no threat to mining operations or to health and safety, we felt we were being chased and so tried to leave," he said.
"It became obvious the miners were intent on confronting us. We ended up running around angry miners who yelled verbal abuse and threatened trespass action," he said.
The students have been camped for a week in the upper Waimangaroa Valley where Solid Energy propose to extend their opencast mining operations. The students have said their protest is to draw public attention to the impacts of mining on the unique pristine natural environment, in particular on the water quality of the areas streams and rivers and on the destruction of important habitat for the threatened Great Spotted Kiwi and endangered Powellephanta snails.
The mine site including pits, overburden stockpiles and sediment ponds extends for hundreds of hectares with no boundary fence or signage. All the land is Crown owned. At any one time mining operations are confined to relatively small parts of this vast area, so there was absolutely no health or safety risk posed to the students who kept well away from operational sites.
ON SITE CONTACT Rob Cadmus 03 470 1353
OFF SITE CONTACT Abigail Allan 021 767 955