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Mining announcement as expected

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Gerry Brownlee
Gerry Brownlee

Wellington, July 20 NZPA - The Government has confirmed it will not mine protected conservation land -- its biggest backdown since taking office.

The Government had proposed opening up 7000 hectares of conservation land in the Coromandel, Great Barrier Island and Paparoa National Park to prospecting for valuable minerals.

The land is protected against mining under schedule four of the Crown Minerals Act, and the proposals provoked furious opposition from the public and conservation lobby groups.

More than 30,000 submissions were made on the public discussion document the Government released -- nearly all of them opposing the proposals -- while about 50,000 people signed a Green Party petition and an estimated 40,000 marched in protest in Auckland.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today no land would be removed from schedule four to be mined.

That was decided by Cabinet yesterday and reported by media last night, but Prime Minister John Key said he wanted to run it by his party caucus this morning before a formal announcement.

Mr Brownlee said the majority of submissions the Government received was opposed to removing land from schedule four to mine it.

"We heard that message loud and clear."

However, he said the proposal had been a valuable experience because it made New Zealanders aware of the mineral potential there was.

The Government will undertake an aeromagnetic survey in Northland and the South Island's West Coast's non-schedule four land to learn which areas have high concentrations of valuable minerals.

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson said 14 areas totalling 12,400 hectares of land would be added to schedule four and future land given classifications similar to schedule four, such as national parks and marine reserves, would automatically become part of schedule four.

"We wanted to allay fears of some submitters that the Government may consider allowing mining in national parks in the future by taking this possibility off the table," she said.

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