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10, Feb, 2010

Mining conservation land no economic solution


Category: ECO Inc

The Government should stop looking at opening up more conservation land to mining and removing regulations designed to protect the environment, the Environment and Conservation Organisations said today.

ECO was responding to the Prime Minister’s speech to Parliament on opening up more conservation land to the mining.

Environmental and Conservation Organisations co-chair Cath Wallace, says it's outdated to try to stimulate business by removing environmental regulations, and will damage New Zealand’s reputation with overseas consumers.

The speech contained no modern thinking about how the economy can be made more sustainable or prosperous through green technology, Cath Wallace said.

The Government should be acting to remove the privileged status miners had over other activity on conservation land.

“Contrary to the statements of the Minister of Energy, Gerry Brownlee, mineral activity is not having a rough deal as mining already has a special status and is not subject to the usual provisions that apply to other activity on Conservation land.”

“While tourism activity, hut building, and roading is subject to the concessions provisions of the Conservation Act, which includes environmental impact assessment and public processes, miners gain access under the secretive provisions of the Crown Minerals Act.

“The only real safeguards are the prohibitions on surface activity under the fourth schedule of the Crown Minerals Act which names some conservation areas as off limits to mining. Yet it is this that the government intends to change to make more areas available to mining.”

“These provisions apply to only some of the categories of extremely important conservation land and some marine reserves.”

Cath Wallace said these provisions do not prevent mining in conservation parks, marine mammal sanctuaries, or in world heritage areas. “The international community will be appalled at the government’s intention to open conservation areas to mining and to remove other environment-protecting regulations.”

For further information, contact Cath Wallace on 021-891-994 or (04)463-5713 or Barry Weeber 021-738-807 or (04)389-1686

Notes:

  1. ECO – the Environment and Conservation Organisations was established in 1972 and represents 67 groups with a concern for the environment.
  2. The Fourth Schedule of the Crown Minerals Act was passed by a National Party Government in 1997 under section 3 Crown Minerals Amendment Act (No 2) 1997. It prohibits mineral activity on conservation land gazetted as national parks, nature reserves, scientific reserves, wilderness areas, marine reserves, ecological areas (but not on the West Coast of the South Island), forest sanctuaries, wildlife sanctuaries, wetlands of international importance, and the Coromandel Peninsula, Hauraki Gulf, and associated offshore islands.
  3. The Fourth Schedule does not stop mining in World Heritage Areas, ecological areas, and marine mammal sanctuaries. This schedule does not prevent miners operating mines under, for example national parks, or clearing native vegetation for service or emergency adits.
  4. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, a governmental and non-governmental body, has called on all countries to stop mining on category I to IV protected areas which applies to nearly all conservation land.