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Forest and Bird research against mining

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, May 31 NZPA - Research commissioned by Forest and Bird shows the economics of mining in conservation areas does not stack up.

The Government is consulting on removing some land from the protection of schedule four of the Crown Minerals Act. More than 33,000 submissions have been received.

As part of its submission Forest and Bird commissioned economist Terry Bertram of Simon Terry Associates (Mr Terry heads the Sustainability Council) to write reports on mining's impact on tourism, valuing mineral resources and the reason for conservation land.

Dr Bertram says that tourism could be damaged by mining on conservation lands and the industry was far more valuable to New Zealand than mining.

He said "an important" segment of the international tourism market would swap to alternative destinations.

If the mining did not impact on tourism it would not represent an economic net gain for the nation unless it could compensate also for non-financial losses like recreational values.

He also said the Government's use of $194 billion as the value of minerals did not take into account costs of exploration, development, extraction and other costs.

The best estimate of the value was actually about $1b, he said, and the figure for minerals in schedule four land was worth about $100m -- or a one-off payment of $36 per voter.

Allowing mining would undermine conservation protection and "potential must always be there for an unravelling of the social compact around national parks, nature reserves and other iconic areas of the country".

Forest & Bird conservation advocate Quentin Duthie said the reports showed the mining proposal was not worth it.

"Government has a responsibility to assess the economic costs as well as the benefits. In this case it might find any economic gain from mining in Schedule 4 is immediately wiped out by tourism losses even before the environmental and social impacts are considered."

The Government has said mining would only be allowed if it could be done in a sustainable way.

A spokesman for Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said all submissions would be considered.

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