Mining Moratorium

Watchdog petition launched – you can help

Coromandel Watchdogs launch petition for immediate moratorium on minerals permits on Conservation Land.  You are encouraged to sign it too and to help pass it around.

Don't undermine Me

When the then new Labour-NZ First Coalition government announced its policies in late 2017 in the Speech from the Throne, it said that there would be “no new mines on conservation land”.  Labour gained a whole lot of support from people who wanted nature protected. But the announcement also sent lobbyists into overdrive, and some in Labour and others in New Zealand First baulked. Pro-mining lobbyists went into over-drive and set about reinterpreting “conservation land” too.

 

Fast forward to September 2020 and the complete lack of action on the policy has tarnished Labour’s credibility. But that’s not all. NZ First seems to be blocking the policy too.

 

Since the announcement, more than 150,00 ha of mining permits have been approved on conservation land according to documents released to Forest and Bird under the OIA.

 

Forest and Bird found: “Activities applied for or approved range from exploration for lithium on numerous conservation areas south-west of Rotorua; drilling for coal on the unique sandstone erosion pavements of the West Coast’s Denniston Plateau; a possible tungsten mine near Glenorchy; and numerous gold exploration activities in and around Coromandel Forest Park and Victoria Forest Park.”

“In addition, there are numerous public conservation areas currently subject to minerals permits from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals where the companies involved have not yet sought permission from the Department of Conservation. This includes Puketi Forest in Northland, and lithium exploration in a conservation area near Whangarei.”

In a classic example of how not to do policy, when it was announced in 2017, no simultaneous moratorium on applications for minerals permits was made to stop would-be miners and existing explorers rushing to get their applications in before the policy took effect. 

Pro-mining interests and their advocates are trying to block the policies, and to get Stewardship Land, a form of not-yet-classified conservation land, removed from the conservation land fold. This would allow the sacrifice of many precious areas of native ecosystems and habitats to be turned over to the miners.

It appears that both Resources Minister Megan Woods and the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are being sucked into the industry line that “stewardship land” is not “conservation land”. But it is.

Stewardship land is just conservation land which hasn’t been given its conservation classification yet – and much of it has very high conservation values, including some areas in World Heritage areas and other precious areas.

 

The total area of stewardship land is about one-third of conservation land, so we must be vigilant.

 

Forest and Bird's review of stewardship areas found they contained 28% of our biodiversity priority sites and more than 3000 parcels of land. 

 

These areas "contains some of our most spectacular landscapes and is home to many of our more than 4000 threatened plants and animals." That includes native Archey’s frog-pepeketua in the Coromandel.

 

Labour has rather hidden behind NZ First and has blamed the lack of progress on them. But actually, Labour is lending itself to the attempt to devalue conservation land. As parties head into the election, they need to be asked where they stand on the proposed end to minerals exploration and mining on conservation land?