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No mining in schedule four but more around country

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 20 NZPA - Mining on special protected areas of conservation are off the table after public opposition, but there will be more mining in other parts of the country -- including other types of conservation land, the Government says.

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 but in a major backdown today said that would not be happening.

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.

Nearly 40,000 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 today said no land would be removed from schedule four to be mined.

The majority of submissions the Government received was opposed to removing land from schedule four for mining, he said.

"We heard that message loud and clear... New Zealanders pretty much told us to leave it alone."

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

Mr Brownlee said it was "hard to get past the emotion" expressed in opposition to the move. His support started eroding after the submissions flooded in.

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. The ministers said that was greatly increased protection but in fact at the moment all national park areas are already covered by 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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