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Solid Energy Misleading Public

Thursday April 13th 2006

Solid Energy Misleading Public

Save Happy Valley Coalition

Solid Energy is continuing to mislead the public and the Government, simply to make a few extra dollars of profit at the expense of the extinction of one of New Zealand's ancient taonga, the native land snail Powelliphanta augustus.

Documents received under the Official Information Act by Save Happy Valley Coalition members indicate that the state-owned coal company is desperate to keep the actual amount of coal under endangered snails secret, and that the amount is only a fraction of the $400 million it claims.

"Claims made by Solid Energy that the coal under Powelliphanta augustus snails, which it was yesterday given permission to remove, is worth $400 million and will keep 130 miners in jobs. These are incredible exaggerations. Furthermore, Solid Energy claimed that if the snails had been saved, the remaining life of the Stockton Mine would halve. But the snails only live on 3-4ha of the enormous 2308ha Stockton Mine!" says Save Happy Valley Coalition spokesperson Ms Frances Mountier.

"The coal under the entire Mt Augustus section of the ridgeline is worth $150-200 million, according documents received under the Official Information Act, and the area that the snails live in is only a tiny portion of that" says Ms Mountier.

"In November the National Business Review put the value of the coal under the snails at $50 million. To have increased in value by 700 percent by April is surprising, to say the least," says Ms Mountier. "We'd like to know exactly how long the tiny 3-4ha of habitat will keep these 130 miners employed. A few weeks?"

"Don Elder's claims that the conditions imposed will somehow ensure the species' survival are simply greenwash - even Chris Carter has admitted that he cannot guarantee that this will not make the snails become extinct."

"Other documents received under the OIA indicate that the real haste for mining the snails is not because of a concern about jobs, but because the coal has already been sold."

"Solid Energy has previously shown itself to be untrustworthy. It recently told our group – which is campaigning against the nearby proposed Happy Valley mine - that it had no idea who two men we caught spying on our valley occupation camp were. Then it later basically admitted hiring them as spies. Solid Energy and its security firm, Gibson Security are also under investigation by the Department of Conservation for illegal security operations on conservation land."

ENDS

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