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PCE report welcomed

20 November 2006

PCE report welcomed

Solid Energy has welcomed the scoping report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) which acknowledges the company’s commitment to improving its environment performance and the systems and initiatives implemented over the last three years to put that into practice.

The PCE proposes to review Solid Energy’s progress at its Stockton Opencast Mine in 2008.

Solid Energy Chief Executive Officer, Dr Don Elder, says: “In early 2004 we put up our hands and made it quite clear to our shareholder and our stakeholders that in the past some of our mining activities, particularly on the West Coast, had fallen well short of environmental best practice and that we had to change the way we did things to minimise our impacts on the environment.

“In the last three years environmental planning and management has become a core part of our business; we have a specialist environmental team and our company culture is one in which environmental impacts across all our sites are actively managed and minimised. We are pleased that in publishing this report, the PCE has recognised the improvements that have taken place but we also acknowledge that it will take time to demonstrate the end results from these changes.

“We are confident that when the PCE’s team returns to Stockton in 2008 they will see further demonstrable improvement in the environmental aspects of our operation. Specifically we believe that by then there will be a marked improvement in water quality in the Ngakawau catchment as a result of our multi-million investment in water management on the Stockton plateau. We are working closely with the local community on this initiative and believe that the consultation arrangements we have in place with the Stockton Consultative Group are best practice.

“Our own research[1] indicates that almost three-quarters of people on the West Coast believe that we are good or very good about consulting with our communities on issues relating to our operations and that we do listen and make changes as a result. We are also seen as environmentally responsible by more than 80% of people on the West Coast.”

Key initiatives underway at Stockton Mine to minimise environmental impacts include:

- Measures to improve the quality of water discharging into the Mangatini Stream, and from there, into the Ngakawau River. A series of dams and sumps will treat water from operational mining areas to reduce the amount of sediment and coal fines in the runoff. A large dam and/or water treatment plant is planned on the Mangatini Stream.

- Minimising the effects of acid rock drainage on the local environment by placing potentially acid-forming rock from overburden (material above the coal) within the centre of engineered landforms and surrounding it with low-acid forming material. Capping waste rock with weather granite or other material such as coal ash to reduce the ingress of water and oxygen.

- Lime dosing trials to raise the pH level of the Mangatini stream which has already improved water quality. Solid Energy has applied for resource consent to carry this out on an ongoing basis.

- Ongoing rehabilitation. In the last year some 56,000 nursery seedlings were planted on 14 hectares of rehabilitated land, doubling the total rehabilitated area.

ENDS

[1] Research carried out by Colmar Brunton for Solid Energy, June 2006 of 900 respondents in our local communities on the West Coast, Huntly and Southland.

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