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New Canterbury coal mine will have a fight on its hands

If a coal miner - today given a green light to purchase sensitive Canterbury land for its coal - thinks it will be able to build a new coal mine, it will face serious opposition, Coal Action Network Aotearoa said today.

The OIO has today given clearance for foreign-owned Bathurst Resources to buy 31.5 ha of land near Glentunnel, where it says it wants to extend its nearby mine to continue supplying Canterbury dairy factories. Its subsidiary, Canterbury Coal, produced 142,000 tonnes of coal from the area in the year to June 2019, 65,000 tonnes of which went to Fonterra’s Darfield factory (1).

“It’s like we’re living in two alternate realities: one where we’re having this generation’s ‘nuclear free moment’ on climate change, and the other is simply accelerated business as usual,” said Cindy Baxter of Coal Action Network Aotearoa.

“Along with polluting our waterways, Canterbury’s dirty dairy factories continue to pump carbon into the atmosphere, but this cannot go on, and we need to draw a line in the sand, and so should the government,” she said.

“Getting New Zealand onto a 1.5C pathway means we have to stop burning coal, and stop new coal mines. There’s a huge concern about Canterbury’s coal use and Bathurst can expect massive opposition to this mine."

She repeated the call recently made to Environment Minister David Parker by 42 organisations to amend the Resource Management Act remove the clause that specifically prevents any consideration of climate impacts in granting resource consents. The RMA amendment legislation was introduced last week with no sign of any such change.

“We need a whole of government approach to climate change. This should start with decisions made by the OIO, extend through the RMA and of course the Zero Carbon Act - and any other government decisions that could lead to our emissions continuing to rise,” said Baxter.

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