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Mining Blindsided By 11th Hour Regulation Switch

Politically motivated changes to regulations, made at the eleventh hour without consulting the public, iwi, and other affected parties, is a blindside, says Straterra CEO Josie Vidal.

Environment Minister David Parker today released the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, with a surprise amendment (section 3:22 Natural inland wetlands, 1 (e)) to stop new coal mines from being established where there are wetlands. This has not been consulted on over the two-year time frame it has taken to amend the standards. The amendment does not apply to other mines and quarries.

"This will not stop coal use in New Zealand, it will just mean more of that coal will be imported," Vidal says.

"The purpose of these regulations is to mitigate the impact of various activities, including mining, on wetlands and to protect high quality wetlands, which we are 100 percent behind.

"We believed we were all on the same page of allowing development to occur, while ensuring no net loss of quality wetlands. This would be good for the economy and the environment.

"These regulations are not the place to try and break down those activities to the type of mineral coming out of a mine because some politicians don’t like coal. That has absolutely nothing to do with protecting wetlands.

"This stretch of every rule and regulation to fit an ideology, often by stealth and without consultation, doesn’t feel very democratic and sets a dangerous precedent.

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"The reality is, while there is demand for coal there must be supply.

"Every effort is going into reducing that demand, but you cannot remove access to a critical mineral used to make steel for the New Zealand market, produce electricity, process food, and heat hospitals and schools, before you have affordable, accessible, readily available alternatives.

"Increasing coal imports makes no sense when coal is produced in New Zealand under strict employment and health and safety laws and stringent environmental rules.

"What is most disappointing about today’s announcement is that we have spent two years giving our best advice and trying to reach the best possible outcome. Then, at the last minute, without telling anyone, a significant and unnecessary change has been made."

Straterra is the industry association representing New Zealand’s minerals and mining sector.


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