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Govt aspiring to mine another National Park

30 November 2009

Govt aspiring to mine another National Park

The Green Party today confirmed rumours that the Government is considering removing mining protection from 20 percent of Mount Aspiring National Park.

“The rumble of Brownlee’s bulldozers just got louder,” said Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei. “Not only are Ministers planning to allow mining in our National Parks, but they are considering removing the protection against mining from large areas of them.

“This flies in the face of previous claims by Ministers that mining National Parks is not their intention, and that any mining would be of small areas of ‘low value conservation land’.

“Removing mining protection from one-fifth of our third largest National Park is frankly unbelievable, and economically short-sighted.”

The Government officials’ recommend:

MOUNT ASPIRING NATIONAL PARK

Mineral prospects

1. This area is home to the only known carbonatite deposits in New Zealand, making it a potential deposition zone for REEs. There are several known mineral occurrences within the park, including showings of gold, chromium and nickel. The geology suggests that the park area is prospective for at least 11 different types of mineral deposits. However, because of the national park status of the area since 1964, there has been little modern geochemical exploration of the area to assist in assessing its prospectivity.

2. In particular, the land in the northeast corner of Mount Aspiring National Park has high mineral prospectivity, particularly in respect of tungsten and REEs.

Conclusions

3. It is therefore recommended that the northeast sector of the national park (the part which approximates the known extent of the carbonatite formations, and which amounts to about <20% of the land area of the park) be considered for removal from Schedule Four.

The 350,000ha Mount Aspiring National Park was formed in 1964. The northeast sector includes Haast Pass, across which the highway from Otago to the West Coast passes following an ancient Maori trail. The highway is a popular tourist route.

Mt Aspiring National Park is also part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. It is one of only two mainland New Zealand World Heritage Areas, and sits alongside 800 World Heritage Areas globally, including the Taj Mahal, Egyptian Pyramids and the Grand Canyon.

“Mining in Mount Aspiring National Park would not only be a blow to our tourism industry, but could endanger the area’s World Heritage status and our international reputation,” said Mrs Turei.

“We could go from the World Heritage list to the In Danger list, joining the likes of Afghanistan, Congo and Iraq.”

In August the Minister of Energy and Resources announced a review of Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act. This Schedule lists places such as National Parks that are protected from mining. The Minister is expected to announce proposals for public consultation in February.

“The Greens agree with former Conservation Minister Nick Smith’s speech in 1997 when he said during the creation of Schedule 4 in Parliament that ‘mining should not occur in National Parks’,” said Mrs Turei.

Attachments and references:
Mt Aspiring National Park: http://doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/national-parks/mount-aspiring/
NZ’s World Heritage Areas: http://www.doc.govt.nz/about-doc/role/international/world-heritage/world-heritage-in-nz/
The text of Nick Smith’s speech on Schedule 4 in 1997: http://blog.greens.org.nz/2009/10/27/chalking-nick-in-nelson/
The Ministerial advice released in October naming other National Parks: http://www.greens.org.nz/sites/default/files/OIAMinistersAdviceMining29Sept2009.pdf

ENDS

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