Today the Green Party is introducing an amendment to the Crown Minerals Bill to prohibit petroleum and minerals prospecting and exploration in New Zealand’s most treasured places ? areas listed in Schedule 4.
“The National Government has been granting prospecting and exploration permits in highly protected Schedule 4 areas which are meant to be safe from mining activities.
“Conservation Minister Nick Smith claims that companies are prospecting in Schedule 4 in order to gain information that will help them mine areas outside of Schedule 4, but that is blatantly not the case.
“Sea Group Holdings Limited has made it clear that it intends, after prospecting, to mine the inner waters of the Coromandel protected under Schedule 4.”
Company director Marcus Jacobson said, “The first step is just working out what’s there and then it’s about identifying the best method and approach. It could be dredging but it wouldn’t be the whole harbour, it would only be a defined area and, again, we’d have to go through the resource consent process.”
“Companies clearly think this Government will allow them to mine in Schedule 4,” said Ms Delahunty.
Broken Hills Gold Company Limited applied in January 2013 for a mining permit on Schedule 4 conservation land in the Coromandel.
“A company recently applied for a mining permit on Schedule 4, and the Government has not yet gone on record stating it will decline the application,” said Ms Delahunty.
“The National Government needs to send a clear message that mining on Schedule 4 land is not allowed and won’t happen. Allowing prospecting and failing to rule out future mining permits is deeply concerning and raises doubts about the on-going protection of these precious places.
“New Zealanders need to know that our most treasured places are absolutely off limits to mining.
“By supporting the Green Party amendment to the Crown Minerals Bill, the Government can send a crystal clear message to mining companies that Schedule 4 land is not available for mining.”
Since the Government’s promise in 2010 to keep mining out of Schedule 4 areas, the Government has granted eight minerals prospecting and exploration permits on DOC land in Schedule 4 and two permits in the inner waters of the Coromandel, which is also protected in Schedule 4.