02, Jan, 2016

No new coal mines: China announces three year ban, closes 1,000 coal mines – NZ should also stop approvals

Category: ECO Inc

ECO today welcomed an announcement that no new coal mines will be approved in China for three years and a further 1,000 existing coal mines are to be closed.

ECO spokesperson Cath Wallace said New Zealand should follow China’s lead and also stop issuing approvals or renewals of coal mine permits.

“China will ban for three years the issue of new coal mine approvals, and has announced the closure of a further 1,000 coal mines this year.  This follows the closure of several thousand mines in the last 2 years.”

“This move is good for the environment and will help save lives and sickness from air pollution and from climate-related effects of China’s enormous greenhouse gas emissions,” Cath Wallace said.  “The Chinese government has also announced more specific moves to shift to more renewable energy sources, a process already well underway in China.”

The International Energy Agency annual coal market report last month predicted flat or downward trend in coal demand, particularly in China, and low coal prices.

“The New Zealand Government should follow suit by refusing new coal mine and prospecting applications.  We need to move away from this sunset industry to a modern economy driven by solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources, with efficient clean energy.”. 

“The Government should develop a strategy out of coal, including transitional assistance for mine workers,” she said.

“Several coal mine applications have been notified in the last month.     Some of these are in sensitive natural areas on Department of Conservation (DoC) land and this is a further reason to reject them on top of the pollution of the climate, air and water that coal mining produces.”.

“One of these is on DoC land near Mokau in the central North Island, where a private company owned by a Simpson family wants to mine 300,000t of coal annually.  They talk of clean coal but propose to mine the dirtiest of the fossil fuels.  They want to do this on public land that would be de-forested, dug up and contaminated, the water is likely to be contaminated and the emissions would damage the climate.  They want to do this right through coming decades for over a century!”

The NZ Petroleum and Minerals of the MoBIE, has granted them rights for multiple 21 year terms so that, if DoC and local government agree, they could mine for well over a century to well into the 2100’s.

Another open cast coal mines has been applied for near Mt Te Kuha near Westport in the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area.

“The Chinese government move comes less than a month after the Paris Climate agreement.  “This is good news, because it points the way for other countries and gives assurance that China is moving to honour its climate protection commitments made at the Paris Climate meeting,” Cath Wallace said.

“People all over the world and nature will benefit from these moves to shift from coal to clean technologies.” 

“New Zealand companies such as Fonterra should follow suit.  Fonterra is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases because it uses coal for drying mild powder.  It could use wood pellets from New Zealand grown plantations instead.

“The New Zealand government should follow China’s lead and move its investment and regulatory effort to clean renewable energy.  .”



1.  For the full story and interesting figures and graphs on the slide of coal prices and production, and the pollution problems, see

2.         The International Energy Agency (Medium Term Market Report, Dec 2015) predicts a flat or downward trend in coal demand, particularly from China.  Coal prices are low.  As the IEA report states “Climate policy is more influential in longer-term coal demand” as “Coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel, and coal burning is the largest contributor to CO2 emissions: current unabated burning is incompatible with climate stabilisation.”

The report “slashed its five-year estimate of global coal demand growth by more than 500 million tonnes of coal equivalent (Mtce) in recognition of the tremendous pressures facing coal markets.”

3.         The latest ECOLink (Nov-Dec 2015) has an article on the Mokau proposed opencast coal mine.  Mokau South Resources Ltd has applied for consents associated with an open cast coal mine at the Panirau Plateau, Mangakara Road, Ohura.  This is about 20 km east of Mokau township, north Taranaki, but is in Waikato Regional Council (WRC).

The proposal is to extract 300,000 tonnes of sub-bituminous coal per year by open cast mining. That will mean mining about 6 ha per year.   The mine area and overburden stockpile could cover about 310 ha over 50 years.  The application is for a 30 year consent.

Submissions close at 5pm on 2 February 2016 with the Waikato Regional Council.

4.         The Te Kuha open cast coal mine near Westport is proposed to cover 70 ha near the ridgeline.  The proposal is to extract up to 500,000 tonnes of coal a year.

The proposal for an access agreement to the Conservation land is open for submissions which close with the Department of Conservation on 9 March 2016 at 5 pm.

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