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Mining decision out tomorrow

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Kate Chapman of NZPA

Wellington, July 19 NZPA - The Government has decided which areas of New Zealand to open up to mining but the public will have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

The Government has proposed removing 7000 hectares of conservation land in the Coromandel, Great Barrier Island and Paparoa National Park from schedule four of the Crown Minerals Act, which protects it from mining, so valuable minerals can be extracted.

More than 30,000 submissions were made on a consultation document about the proposal, nearly 50,000 people signed a Green Party-organised petition against it while 40,000 marched in Auckland.

Prime Minister John Key said Cabinet today decided which areas would be removed for mining.

However, the decision would not be made public until tomorrow afternoon to give the rest of the National MPs time to look over it at their weekly caucus meeting tomorrow morning.

Mr Key would not reveal the chosen areas today.

"I appreciate your enthusiasm, but you've only got one more sleep to go," Mr Key told one journalist who asked about the possibility of mining on Great Barrier Island.

Asked if the Government has listened to submissions, he said it had listened to both sides of the debate.

There was a enormous economic wealth tied up in schedule four land but most of that was taken off the table by the Government early on, Mr Key said.

There were also opportunities for mineral and exploration wealth outside of the schedule including iron sands and lignite, he said.

"Schedule four is one part of the equation...in terms of the wider mineral and exploration opportunities in New Zealand, it's my view that they can deliver a step change."

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said she was waiting for the decision and was particularly concerned about possible mining in Paparoa National Park and on the Coromandel.

"For the Government to promise it won't mine in national parks and then to do so is a breach of its election promise and shows the Government cannot be trusted," she said.

The Coromandel was the jewel in the crown of the Auckland isthmus area and deserved to be protected.

"The Government will be biting off a very big fight if they decide to mine in the Coromandel and in our national parks because the community has said loud and clear it will not tolerate our national parks being desecrated like this."

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