Fu­ture of min­ing

Waihi Leader - - News -

For­est & Bird head Kevin Hague re­cently came out with some ad­vice for West Coast­ers, pretty well ad­vis­ing them to give up on min­ing, claim­ing “a thriv­ing West Coast econ­omy in the fu­ture has to em­brace new in­dus­tries but also to add value through spe­cial­i­sa­tion in ex­ist­ing ones”.

He sug­gested “soft­ware busi­nesses . . . or tourism ven­tures that fo­cus on small num­bers of tourists stay­ing for longer and spend­ing more”. It’s a mes­sage that he might equally have shared with the Hau­raki District, as the Gov­ern­ment read­ies it­self for con­sul­ta­tion on a blan­ket ban of new min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties on all con­ser­va­tion land.

But Mr Hague ig­nores the re­al­ity that the RMA pro­vides a sound and in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ment of re­source projects, in­clud­ing min­ing. This leg­is­la­tion pro­vides some of the most ro­bust en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in the world, and to date it has done so largely with­out po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence. And he ig­nores the eco­nomic re­al­i­ties of the real ben­e­fits min­ing pro­vides economies such as the West Coast, and Waihi, and New Zealand — jobs, taxes, over­seas rev­enue.

These are not triv­ial is­sues to be traded off at the stroke of a pen. And that’s some­thing Mr Hague should note.

As West­land mayor Bruce Smith has noted, “the av­er­age min­ing wage is $114,000 but the av­er­age tourism wage only $40,000”. This is as true of Waihi as it is of the West Coast.

Last year min­ing con­trib­uted 22.9 per cent to Hau­raki District’s GDP and di­rectly em­ployed around four per cent of the district’s work­force. And, in Waihi, OceanaGold is re­spon­si­ble for between 40-45 per cent of the eco­nomic through­put of the town.

It’s true that New Zealand’s re­gions need to di­ver­sify — to grow dwin­dling pop­u­la­tions, in­crease tourism and en­cour­age en­trepreneuri­al­ism. They need to find in­no­va­tive ways to en­cour­age the young to stay and at­tract skilled mi­grants from ma­jor cen­tres.

That’s hap­pen­ing, thanks to Shane Jones’ Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Fund and spe­cific lo­calised re­gional de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives.

The min­er­als sec­tor wants to work with gov­ern­ment to sup­port re­gional growth.

Min­ing can and should play a role in that — with con­di­tions in place un­der which the sec­tor can con­tinue to in­vest and so­ci­ety can be con­fi­dent that con­sents granted for any pro­posed ac­tiv­i­ties will be ap­pro­pri­ate, and will bal­ance the so­cial, eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts so that the pro­posal makes a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety.

Min­ing makes highly pro­duc­tive use of very lim­ited amounts of land.

Min­ing com­pa­nies ac­tive on the Coro­man­del are tar­get­ing de­posits ca­pa­ble of be­ing mined by un­der­ground meth­ods with a small sur­face foot­print. Ul­ti­mately, all of the land is re­ha­bil­i­tated, so the fi­nal foot­print is even smaller.

There needs to be open com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion on the fu­ture of min­ing on con­ser­va­tion land.

Ed­u­ca­tion is re­quired, too, be­cause most New Zealan­ders are not aware of the dif­fer­ent clas­si­fi­ca­tions of con­ser­va­tion land, nor the na­ture and im­pact of cur­rent min­ing on con­ser­va­tion land.

Good in­for­ma­tion, based on sci­ence and ev­i­dence, is es­sen­tial for good pol­icy. CHRIS BAKE Chief ex­ec­u­tive Straterra

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.