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Mining Regime For West Coast To Be Addressed

A hearing will resume in Greymouth tomorrow [TUE] on how land-use and mining will evolve under the West Coast's proposed new district plan.

Prominent submitters for the four day hearing, from June 11 into the Te Tai o Poutini Plan's Mineral Extraction chapter will include Poutini Ngāi Tahu and the national lobby group Forest and Bird.

As well, the operator of the largest open cast coal mine in the country at Stockton, Bathurst Resources Limited and BT Mining Limited will appear alongside the prominent new West Coast miner Westland Mineral Sands.

An initial hearing for the TTPP's minerals extraction chapter opened in Westport on May 28 before being adjourned the following day.

Since then the TTPP Hearing Panel has issued a minute after an issue emerged around the reach of the proposed Buller Coal Zone (BCZ).

In the minute, chief commissioner Dean Chrystal notes that Ngākawau resident Mark Pitchfork expressed disquiet at the May hearing about the potential for his residential property to be affected by the proposed BCZ.

The BCZ encompasses much of the historic and current mining footprint of the Stockton Plateau, above Ngākawau.

But Mr Pitchfork's property within residential Ngākawau is very close to the coastal site of the railhead for the coal loadout aerial ropeway from Stockton.

Mr Chrsytal said the Ratcliff Road property owned by Mr Pitchfork happens to be at the tip of a triangle of general rural zoned land surrounded on both sides by the proposed BCZ.

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"At the hearing Mr Pitchfork expressed concern about the proximity of the BCZ to his property and the potential for mining activity to take place on the area of BCZ to the east," Mr Chrystal said.

The property owner essentially sought for the BCZ to be removed from this area, "in particular in proximity to his property".

Mr Chrystal said the panel noted the area in question includes a road leading up to a station on the Stockton Mines aerial coal transfer system.

He said the hearing panel will ask Stockton operator Bathurst Resources Limited and BT Mining Limited on Wednesday [June 12] to clarify the purpose of the BCZ at Ngākawau.

"In particular, we would like to understand whether there is any intention for mining to take place in this area or is the BCZ similarly providing for the access road as an ancillary facility to the Stockton Mine, in which case could the zone boundary be refined?" the minute says.

Hearings for the proposed TTPP have been ongoing since late 2023.

Often referred to as the 'one plan', the TTPP is expected to replace the current three operative district plans on the West Coast once it is formally adopted sometime in 2025.

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