Forest & Bird are rather polite regarding the Energy and Resources Minister’s desire to access resources locked up in National Parks and Conservation Reserves. “Fuck off” seems more appropriate.
Energy and Resources Minster Gerry Brownlee has his eyes on our stunning forests – those precious parts of our land that inspire the 100% Pure New Zealand tourism success story.
And Mr Brownlee is not looking to join the millions of overseas tourists and proud Kiwis who walk, kayak, fish, raft, swim, photograph and simply relax in our national parks and other conservation areas every year.
No, he is eyeing them for open-cast mines… [cont]
Here are a few quotes from his address and my thoughts as I read them;
The National-led Government is absolutely determined to raise our living standards. That is going to require a big improvement to our economic growth and productivity rates.
There is no doubt that New Zealand is a mineral rich country. A recent report by Richard Barker estimated our metallic mineral potential to have a gross in-ground value in excess of $140 billion, with lignite alone at least an additional $100 billion.
Now I see where you’re heading…
Australia is often referred to as the “lucky country” because of its natural resources endowment.
Australia is a country with massive resources. It’s also has with most of the population living on in a narrow fringe with it’s own challenges. It may be mineral rich but Australia is rather short on H2O. Lucky maybe, dry certainly. I’d rather be a bit “poorer” and damp, with conservation areas conserved,
As a nation we have neglected the contribution that the resources sector could make to our growth rate, levels of employment, and quality of life. Our Government wants to change that.
We are going to be far more pragmatic and supportive than the previous administration towards exploration and mining activity.
In other words: let it rip
Of course we must be cognisant of our responsibility to the environment. But mining and the environment can co-exist together.
Like war and peace, reminds me of John Clarke & Brian Dawe’s skit from “The Lucky Country” where the Minister claims a leaking oil tanker has been “towed outside the environment”! See the “Front Fell Off” Episode.
In my short time as Minister I have become acutely aware that one of the fundamental barriers to mineral exploration and development is access to prospective land, particularly to land administered by the Department of Conservation.
Bizarre, I’d have thought preventing Mining in conservation areas is what you’d expect DOC to do? Well done!
I understand that DOC administered land hosts a majority of our mineral potential – an estimated 70%. About 40% of that land is listed in Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act. That means something like 30% of our most prospective land is off limits because the Minister of Conservation is not allowed to enter into any access arrangement for any area described in Schedule 4, except for certain low impact activities.
Reclassification currently takes place under several different provisions of five different statutes. None of these statutes require the Minister of Energy and Resources to be consulted prior to public notification and only two - national parks and national reserves - require me to be specifically notified. Accordingly, under current law any opportunity costs associated with a reclassification can only be assessed by Crown Minerals and raised with me after proposals to reclassify areas have already been publicly notified
In other words, I want to mine without telling anyone first who might object. Public notification is such an inconvenience isn’t it?
To improve the present situation, the Minister of Conservation and I have directed officials to develop options to improve processes around DOC consultation with Crown Minerals on conservation land reclassification.
Personally, I favour a system where all DOC land reclassifications are referred to Crown Minerals prior to public notification so that an early review of the land’s mineral potential can be undertaken.
So they can be done before the meddlesome public get in the way?
In closing, let me reiterate what I said at the start of my address. The National-led Government is absolutely determined to raise our living standards. The development of our abundant mineral resources will play an important role in achieving that goal. My hope for the sector in the coming years is that we see increased prospecting and exploration in New Zealand, leading to increased production and added value to the New Zealand economy.
There is more to “added value”, than a bank balance. Greg (below) has seen what impact we’ve had already. Lets not make it worse.
Read the full address here: