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13, May, 2010

ECO Special Appeal: Help us stop mining on conservation land


Category: ECO Inc

It seems we have a choice: dig deep into our pockets and resources, or the mining industry will be digging in New Zealand’s most precious conservation areas, both marine and on land. We again need your help, and it is urgent.

We are facing a government with an aggressive old-style economic growth model and little apparent understanding of the values and importance of our protected areas and conservation, or of our largely unprotected marine environment out beyond the territorial sea.

As you may know, the government has already identified over seven thousand hectares of high value conservation land in Great Barrier Island, Paparoa National Park, and five areas in the Coromandel (including two ecological areas), and it does it stop there. The Government is spending $4 million to investigate other conservation areas, including on Stewart Island, in Northland and around Mt Aspiring National Park.

Beyond the territorial sea, Minister of Economic Development, Gerry Brownlee, is issuing licences to explore or mine, just as he is actively promoting oil and gas exploration. The latest exploration licence issued covers 4,726 square kilometres on the Chatham Rise, east of Canterbury. There has been no public input.

This is a special appeal to you to help ECO defend our conservation areas and the marine environment, by contributing money to our campaign.

By supporting this appeal you will enable us to:

  • Promote protection of New Zealand’s conservation areas and marine environment
  • Be engaged in planning process
  • Lobby MPs and Government
  • Provide information and advice for others to speak out

The deadline for submissions has been extended to 26 May, so if you have not already done so, please write a submission on the issue of the removal of conservation areas from Schedule Four of the Crown Minerals Act 1991. Details for making a submission are attached, and further useful information can be found at www.2precious2mine.org.nz

Your help in contributing to this special ECO appeal is much appreciated.

How to donate

  • Use your credit card to donate online
  • Call us 04 385 7545
  • Post a cheque to ECO, PO Box 11-057, Wellington
  • Set up a regular donation to ECO - Download the automatic payment form below
  • Send us an email

Mining Submissions Needed by 26 May

The Government proposes to open specially protected conservation areas to mining (that covered by Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act) and to undermine the role of the Minister of Conservation in the management of conservation land and marine protected areas.

The closing date for submissions has been extended to 26 May. We urge all groups and individuals to make submissions.

The debate about mining in protected areas is an international debate. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has adopted policy to say that mining should not take place in any protected areas which meet their categories I to IV. This includes national parks, World Heritage Areas, scientific and other land protected for special biodiversity values.

Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act was adopted in 1997 to protect conservation land and protected marine areas where mining should not take place on the surface or impact on surface features apart from emergency adits or limited service shafts. The Schedule includes national parks, nature reserves, scientific reserves, wilderness areas, sanctuary, wildlife sanctuary, marine reserves, and wetlands of international importance, however newly created specially protected areas are not automatically given Schedule 4 protection.

The Government now proposes to open up over 7,000 ha of Schedule 4 specially protected areas to mineral actvity and to subsidise with $4m the mineral industry to investigate the mineral potential on another half a million hectares. Points you could make in your submissions are to:

POINTS TO OPPOSE

  1. Oppose the removal of the protection from mining of the areas now protected by Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act (see below) and to oppose any Government proposals to open other protected areas for mining or for exploration.

    The specially protected areas proposed to be opened to mining and exploration and removed from Schedule 4 are:

    • The Inangahua section of Paparoa National Park (3315 ha);
    • Te Ahumata Plateau on Great Barrier Island (705ha);
    • Over 2,574 ha in the Coromandel Peninsula which have high ecological or recreational values or are important for flood protection:
      • The area behind Thames township;
      • Tapu and Waiomu areas on the Thames Coast;
      • Broken Hills area near Hikuai
      • Hauraki Hill, Tokotea-Kapanga and Matawai, areas near Coromandel township.
      • The Otahu Ecological Area (396ha) and Parakawai Geological Reserve (with spectacular cliffs) (68ha), near Whangamata
  2. Make the point that the economic benefits touted from such mineral exploitation are seriously over-stated because they omit the costs of extraction, omit any accounting for environmental damage costs, and omit the losses of conservation services, tourism, recreation, ecosystem services, and other benefits from affected conservation areas.
  3. Oppose the government subsidy of $4 million to mining companies to do mineral surveys and exploration in any protected areas. Mining in these places should not even be considered. This is a waste to put money towards exploration given that these areas, regardless of any minerals that might be there, should remain absolutely protected and therefore not mined. Areas being investigated include:
      Coromandel and Great Barrier conservation areas,
    • Paparoa National Park,
    • Rakiura National Park and virtually all of Stewart Island,
    • Central Northland (from Kaitaia to Whangarei including the Bay of Islands and Hokianga),
    • east of Nelson from Cape Soucis (Raetihi) to Tophouse including Richmond Conservation Park,
    • Inland Kaikoura Range (centred on Tapuae-o-uenuku),
    • South Westland World Heritage Area north of the Haast River,
    • Longwood conservation area and range.
  4. Oppose the proposal to give the Minister for Energy and Resources, or the Minister of Economic Development, a role in making decisions on mining or exploration access to conservation land. These decisions should continue to be the role of the Minister of Conservation as the appropriate ministerial decision-maker under section 61 of the Crown Minerals Act 1991.

PROPOSALS TO SUPPORT:

  1. The addition of 12,400 ha of land and marine reserves proposed for inclusion in Schedule 4. This land should have been included in the Schedule automatically and includes six marine reserves (Whangarei Harbour, Te Paepae o Aotea (Volkner Rocks), Taputeranga, Horoirangi, Parininihi, and Tapuae), Ianthe scientific reserve, Orokonui Nature Reserve, Burwood Bush Scientific Reserve, Kaikoura Island and Rakitu Island Scenic Reserves, and 240 ha of Paparoa National Park.

    In addition ask the Government to:

  1. Ensure when making decisions on access to conservation land it is subject to a public process in the same way that other non-mineral activity has under the concessions provisions under Part 3B the Conservation Act.
  2. Amend Schedule 4 so that any areas that are in the protection categories listed in the schedule (eg national parks, nature reserves, scientific reserve, marine reserves, etc) are automatically included. This was the understanding of the Parliament when the provisions were passed in 1997 but errors in the schedules provisions meant that did not occur.
  3. Amend Schedule 4 to cover all specially protected areas in New Zealand, including all World Heritage Areas, National Reserves (eg Lewis Pass), marine mammal sanctuaries, and freshwater faunistic reserves. For example, World Heritage Areas not currently included in Schedule 4 are over 320,000 hectares on the West Coast and all the marine areas in the Sub-Antarctic World Heritage Area apart from the area covered by the Auckland Islands marine reserve. Mining is an anathema to World Heritage Status.
  4. Amend the provisions of section 61 the Crown Minerals Act to allow West Coast ecological areas to be added to Schedule 4. Nationally ecological areas cover areas identified to protect special ecological values, for example rare forest types.

Don’t forget to indicate if you live near or have visited any of these areas or have additional information on the special features at risk from mining.

Submissions should be made prior to 5pm on 26 May to Schedule 4 Stocktake, Ministry of Economic Development, PO Box 1473, Wellington 6140, or email to: Schedule4@med.govt.nz

More information can be found at www.2precious2mine.org.nz and www.watchdog.org.nz