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Supreme Court Decision Will Guide Stevenson Mining On Access To Reserve Land For Te Kuha Project

Rangitira Developments Ltd (a JV between Stevenson Holdings Ltd and Wi Pere Holdings Ltd) notes the Supreme Court’s decision, released on 15 July, that clarifies the law when seeking access to reserve land for the Te Kuha coal mine project. Stevenson Mining is the operator.

At issue is the interplay between the Reserves Act 1977 and the Crown Minerals Act 1991 in relation to access to the Westport Water Conservation Reserve for the Te Kuha coal mine project.

Rangitira sought a declaratory judgment on this issue, initially from the High Court in October 2017. The High Court ruled that the CMA takes precedence over the Reserves Act in relation to access arrangements for mining.

Forest & Bird then appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal, which reversed the High Court decision. That was the catalyst for Rangitira to appeal to the Supreme Court on the matter.

Armed with this novel case law, Rangitira will now prepare an application seeking access to 130 hectares of the reserve from the Buller District Council.

It is aimed to mine 250,000 tonnes per year of premium-quality, coking coal for specialised applications, including steel-making, over a 16-year mine life, employing directly 58 people, and indirectly, a further 118 FTEs. Wages and salaries are estimated at $5.6 million a year, and company spending in the West Coast region at $28 million a year.

Mining will be undertaken according to the world’s best practice. During and after mining the affected area would be rehabilitated into indigenous vegetation, as occurs at other mine sites on the West Coast, subject to conditions in environmental approvals.

Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae have formally supported Te Kuha being considered by government as a shovel-ready project, to create jobs for the district and the region, and supporting the regional economy during these unprecedented Covid-19 times.

It is noted that resource consents for the project were granted in November 2017 by the Buller District Council and the West Coast Regional Council under the Resource Management Act 1991. This decision has been appealed to the Environment Court, and a hearing date is awaited.

We invite Forest and Bird to settle its appeal by negotiating with us on detailed resource consent conditions, so we can get on with providing jobs, earning export dollars, and achieving a net environmental gain with extensive, offsite pest control in the district proposed as a condition.

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