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RMA Changes To Cut Coal Mining Consent Red Tape

Changes to the Resource Management Act will align consenting for coal mining to other forms of mining to reduce barriers that are holding back economic development, Resources Minister Shane Jones says.

“The inconsistent treatment of coal mining compared with other extractive activities is burdensome red tape that fails to acknowledge that the impacts of physically extracting coal are similar, if not the same, as those occurring in mining other minerals,” Mr Jones says.

“This is a significant barrier to industry extracting the coal resources needed to keep our economy moving so we need to align the consenting rules for the extraction of coal with other extractive activities.”

The Government’s first Resource Management Amendment Bill, to be introduced shortly, will contain changes to provisions in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater and the National Policy Statements for Freshwater Management and Indigenous Biodiversity. These apply extra controls on resource consent pathways for coal mining compared with other extractive activities even though the localised environmental effects are similar.

The additional controls, introduced by the previous government, which end the consenting pathway for existing thermal coal mines from 31 December 2030, will also be removed. This position ensures New Zealand’s industrial processors will have access to domestic coal and not be forced to rely on imported coal to meet their needs.

“The Coalition Government plans to reinject life into New Zealand's economy through increased trade, productivity, and regional development,” Mr Jones says.

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“Harnessing the economic opportunities of our mining sector, including our extensive coal resources, will be crucial to the economic prosperity of New Zealand and to ensuring we have a secure supply of fuels and minerals to keep our economy growing.

“Coal is a small but mighty part of New Zealand’s productive output and makes a significant contribution to regional economies. On the West Coast, coal extraction provides for the families of 280 workers at Stockton Mine which produces around 80 per cent of our $300 million in sought-after premium coal exports, used in international steelmaking.

“Aligning the consenting pathway for coal mining with the pathway for other extractive activities will give the industry certainty and confidence, and when the Bill is enacted a wider range of consent applications for coal mines will be able to be made.

“We are not removing the controls to coal mining in specific locations where they exist; for example, land excluded for access under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act, or removing the robust environmental protections that all mining is subject to.

“Resource consent applications for coal mining will remain subject to the gateway tests and the Effects Management Hierarchy which requires adverse effects to be avoided, minimised, remedied, offset or compensated for.”

The first Resource Management Amendment Bill is expected to be introduced to Parliament in May and passed into law later this year.

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