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Mining industry praises Govt's decisions

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Gerry Brownlee
Gerry Brownlee

The Labour Party is taunting the Government for what it describes as "a humiliating backdown" over mining conservation land, but the industry doesn't see it that way.


Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee's announcement yesterday that plans to open up protected areas of the conservation estate for prospecting had been scrapped drew scorn from opposition parties.

Mr Brownlee admitted that the furious public response to proposals covering up to 7000 hectares in the Coromandel, Great Barrier Island and Paparoa National Park had caused Cabinet to think again.

"Do you want to end up having an industry that has enormous potential...constantly battling with the public over a perception issue that is created over 7000ha?" he said at a press conference.

"That wasn't where we wanted to be."

He also said the public response to the proposals had shown "a clear mandate" for the industry to grow in areas which weren't protected -- and that was 85 percent of the country.

The Government is going to undertake an aero magnetic survey of Northland and the South Island West Coast to find areas which have high concentrations of valuable minerals.

The New Zealand Minerals Industry Association (NZMIA) praised the Government decisions.

"For more than a decade the NZMIA has advocated such surveys of the entire country, including specifically the Northland and West Coast regions," said chief executive Doug Gordon.

"The resulting information will attract investment in environmentally responsible mineral exploitation."

Mr Gordon said there was the potential for "economy wide growth" because of the linkages between minerals and other sectors.

He cited studies in Northland which had shown 2700 jobs could be created and a 6 percent increase in the region's GDP could be achieved.

Mr Gordon didn't have a problem with scrapping plans to mine schedule four land.

"We respect and accept has been an extremely worthwhile exercise and we compliment the Minister of Energy and this government for not continuing to hide New Zealand's mineral light under a bushel."

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