Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


One year on: Solid's coal kept in the hole

press release - immediate release
One year on: Solid's coal kept in the hole

15 January 2013--When activists gathered a year ago near Mataura in Southland for the first “Keep the Coal in the Hole” Summer Festival, New Zealand was facing what looked like a massive, four-part, assault on the climate by Solid Energy.

The basis of that assault were Solid’s plans to exploit vast quantities of lignite, a low-grade brown coal that lies beneath prime Southland farmland – plans that, if carried out, would emit billions of tonnes of additional greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.

Solid was building its experimental pilot lignite briquetting plant, with a view to a full-scale briquetting plant being built later on. A lignite-to-urea plant in partnership with fertiliser company Ravensdown was to follow, and then the biggest project of all, a plant to make synthetic diesel from lignite. The New Vale mine would be expanded and another larger mine dug to fuel all these projects.

Solid Energy claimed that 2300 jobs would come to Southland as a result. However, as the Coal Action Network's 2013’s Summer Festival approaches this weekend in Gore, the gathering faces quite a different situation.

The pilot briquetting plant has been built but the confident statements by Solid Energy in April that it would be open “middle of this year” and July’s predictions of “Production this month” have come to nothing.

“The plant is there, but we’re not sure what it’s doing. We know that several people have walked away from one of the six local jobs it has created so far, citing safety fears, and there’s no official opening in sight,” said co-organiser of this week’s festival, Jenny Campbell, of the local Coal Action Murihiku group.

Also on the back burner are plans for the lignite-to-fertiliser project after Ravensdown walked away from the partnership. And expansion of the mine has stalled due to local consent difficulties.

“One year on, Solid Energy is in a financial hole. There have been massive redundancies across the country, from Solid’s HQ in Christchurch to Spring Creek and Huntly. Solid now appears to be staking its future on lignite, but the situation in Mataura is far from the rosy picture the company paints,” Mrs Campbell said.

The national group opposed to new and expanded coal mines, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, called on the new Solid Energy Board Chair, Mark Ford, to sack CEO Don Elder.

“Don is paid $1.4 million per year, but he has done nothing to earn it,” said spokesperson Tim Jones. “He has entirely mismanaged this company and should step aside.”

“The last time exploiting Southland lignite was considered was during Think Big. Economics put paid to that idea. The price of coal has put paid to Spring Creek and Solid’s other coalmining efforts. Is lignite really economic, or is this just Don’s personal fantasy?” Mr Jones asked.

Solid Energy is now so far from the Asset Sales process it’s laughable.

Meanwhile, an economic report commissioned by WWF-NZ and produced by BERL shows that Southland has enormous potential to develop a low carbon economy, if more investments were made into forestry, horticulture, manufacturing and engineering, and education and training sectors. Investment in, for example, wood and forest products could produce 1800 jobs and boost the economy by $190 billion over the next 15 years.

This year’s Summer Festival will be held in Gore, with an open day for the public at the James Cumming Wing, Ardwick St, Gore, from 10 a.m. on Sunday. Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks will open the event. Keynote speaker, a farmer defending land and the environment, Rob McCreath from Friends of Felton Australia will talk of how his group’s “Lock the Gate” campaign helped to stop a mining project and petrochemical plant in their beautiful Queensland valley.

The full programme for Sunday is here http://coalactionnetworkaotearoa.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/summerfest_sunday_programme.pdf

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

2040 Target And Lower Standards: “Swimmable” Rivers Five Times More Likely To Make You Sick

Forest & Bird has condemned the government’s new water quality standards, warning New Zealanders that they lock in current levels of water pollution and allow for a 5-fold increase in the chance of getting sick from swimming in a river.

“Despite an explicit assurance from Minister Smith that the new water standards would provide for human and ecosystem health, he has failed to deliver on either of these things,” says Forest & Bird CEO Kevin Hague. More>>

 
 

Immigration: Clampdown On Rogue Employers Good First Step

The Human Trafficking Research Coalition is pleased at the new clampdown on rouge employers who exploit migrants announced by Minister Woodhouse this morning, and believes this is a step in the right direction. More>>

ALSO:

Mayor: 750 New Social And Affordable Homes For Wellington (Over A Decade)

The next stage of Wellington’s Housing Upgrade Programme will see at least 750 new units of social and affordable housing built over the next decade, Mayor Justin Lester has announced. More>>

ALSO:

22/2: Christchurch Quake Memorial Unveiled

A city, a region, a nation and an international community impacted by the Canterbury Earthquakes will come together to mark the sixth anniversary of the deadly quake and dedicate Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial. More>>

ALSO:


November Quakes:

Gordon Campbell: On The Mana-Maori Party Deal

If the self-interest involved wasn’t so blatant, the electorate deal between the Maori Party and Hone Harawira would be kind of poignant. It’s a bit like seeing the remaining members of Guns’n’Roses or the Eagles back on the road touring the nostalgia circuit… playing all the old hits of Maori unity and kaupapa Maori politics. More>>

ALSO:

Private Provision: First Social Bond To Focus On Mental Health

New Zealand’s first social bond will help around 1700 people with mental illness into work, Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Social Investment Minister Amy Adams say. More>>

ALSO:

Immigration: Short Reprieve For Nine Indian Students

A temporary hold on deportations of nine Indian students is a step in the right direction but the Government urgently needs to implement safeguards to stop further injustices to more international students, the Green Party says. More>>

EARLIER:


Megaupload Case: High Court Rules Dotcom, Co-Accused Eligible For Extradion

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom and his three co-accused are eligible for extradition to the United States, New Zealand's High Court ruled... Justice Murray Gilbert upheld a decision by the District Court that there were grounds for Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato to be extradited. More>>

ALSO:

PREVIOUSLY:

Port Hills Fire: Midday Update, Monday 20 February

• 9 homes destroyed
• 2 homes with partial damage. Damage includes things like cracked windows, heat damage.
• 3 properties with damage to other external structures e.g sheds or outbuildings More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news