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Stevenson Mining Disappointed Over HC Decision On Access To Stewardship Land For Te Kuha Project

Rangitira Developments Ltd (a JV between Stevenson Holdings Ltd and Wi Pere Holdings Ltd) is disappointed with the High Court’s decision, released on 30 June, upholding a Ministerial decision declining access to stewardship land for the Te Kuha coal mine project. Stevenson Mining is the operator.

At issue is 12 hectares of stewardship land administered by the Department of Conservation near Westport. Access is decided under the Crown Minerals Act 1991. Access to this sliver of land for mining would optimise the mine plan at Te Kuha. The total footprint of the project is 144 ha.

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.

In June 2018, Conservation Minister Hon Eugenie Sage and Energy and Resources Minister Hon Dr Megan Woods declined access to the 12 ha, on the basis that Te Kuha’s economic benefits did not outweigh its impacts on conservation values.

Subsequently Rangitira filed judicial review proceedings in the High Court, arguing a failure of process in Ministers’ decision-making. The Court did not agree with the applicant that the Ministers failed to apply the correct legal tests..

However, the Court did agree that the Ministers had only considered information which was not up to date in terms of Rangitira’s proposed conditions for mitigation and positive environmental measures in the most recent revisions of the project. Rangitira is disappointed that DOC officials chose not to put that information before the Ministers. Therefore, Rangitira will submit afresh an application for access to the 12 ha, once we have prepared further updated and refined information and evidence in relation to ecology and conservation impacts and benefits for Ministers to consider.

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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