Further delay in DoC mining ban consultation
By Gavin Evans
Nov. 22 (BusinessDesk) - Consultation on the role of mining in parts of the conservation estate may not get underway until next year.
The government proposed its ban on new mining on Department of Conservation land a year ago. A discussion paper had been scheduled for September but even in August that was looking ambitious.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said she hopes to get the consultation underway in “coming months.”
“We are working to complete a public discussion document,” she said in an emailed response to questions. “Ministers recognise it is a significant issue and wish to put forward good information for the public to consider.”
The proposed ban was a Green Party pledge going into last year’s election but not part of the formal coalition agreement with Labour. The work is being led by Sage and Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods.
But the estate’s sheer scale – roughly a third of the country’s land area at 8.9 million hectares – brings the issue starkly up against the pro-regional development focus of coalition partner NZ First and a growing interest in the country’s potential to produce rare earth minerals and other specialist metals.
Some parts of the estate have been mined or worked as forest in the past and almost 10 percent of it is concentrated on the West Coast.
There is also the legal complexity of the DoC estate, about 40 percent of which is formally protected from activities like mining, but which also provides the department concession income from other users, including tourism operators and owners of hydro schemes.
Sage has been at pains previously to emphasise that mining on private land, and existing permits holders in the DoC estate, won’t be affected by the ban.
No major mines operate on DoC land. At the end of May only about half the 112 mining approvals were operational, mostly for gold but also including some quarrying and coal. The total footprint of the activities nationwide was about 3,000 hectares.