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

Gordon Campbell: On Why Labour Isn’t Responsible For Barnaby Joyce

As a desperate Turnbull government tries to treat the Barnaby Joyce affair as a Pauline Hanson fever dream – blame it on the foreigners! We’re the victims of the dastardly New Zealand Labour Party! – our own government has chosen to further that narrative, and make itself an accomplice.

Evidently, the National government is similarly desperate for anything that might discredit or derail the Ardern juggernaut, even if that means throwing Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne under a bus More>>

 

Treaty: Agreement In Principle Signed With Moriori

“The Crown acknowledges Moriori was left virtually landless from 1870, hindering its cultural, social and economic development. The Crown also acknowledges its contribution to the myths that the people of Moriori were racially inferior and became extinct." More>>

ALSO:

Susan Devoy: Call For Inquiry Into State Abuse Reaches UN

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is in Geneva and has asked a United Nations committee to urge the New Zealand government to initiate an inquiry into the physical and sexual abuse of children and disabled people held in state institutions. More>>

ALSO:

(Not National): Cross-Party Agreement On Pike River Re-Entry

The commitment was signed this afternoon by the leaders of Labour, United Future, The Maori Party, and the Green Party and, together with the earlier commitment by New Zealand First, means that there is now a Parliamentary majority behind the families’ fight for truth and justice. More>>

ALSO:

Earlier:

Mental Health Foundation: 'Positive First Steps'

“The heavy reliance on pilots and targeted approaches in the package announced today makes it plain that additional funding will be needed so that activities that work can be made available throughout New Zealand,” says Mr Robinson. More>>

ALSO:

'Gift' To NZ: Synod Considers Third Christchurch Cathedral Option

Members of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch will consider three, not two, options regarding the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral... The new option is for the Synod to gift the Cathedral building to the Government for the people of New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

PM's Presser: Labour's Water Policy 'Reckless', Says English

The Labour Party has "bumbled into" its policy to charge for water in a "reckless" way that would put a Labour-led government on a collision course with both Maori and other water users, Prime Minister Bill English said at his weekly post-Cabinet press conference.. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election