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Brownlee lines up national mineral survey after backdown on parks exploration

Published 20 July 2010

Energy & Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee stuck today to his line that opponents of mining in national parks were making a great deal of noise about a piffling total area – 0.2% of schedule 4 land was to have been opened to exploration or extraction.


The Government received 37,552 submissions on its discussion paper, Maximising our mineral potential: Stocktake of schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act & beyond, and most said not to remove any land from schedule 4.


Mr Brownlee turned the Government about-face around, saying the exercise had opened people’s eyes to how much valuable mineral potential the country had. From opposition to mining in one area, he concluded New Zealanders had given their mandate for the mining industry to explore the rest of the country.


On top of announcing the schedule 4 sites wouldn’t be opened to exploration or mining, Mr Brownlee said a $4.5 million aerial study would be made to assess mineral potential over the rest of the country.


Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson said the Government had agreed to continue with its proposal to add 14 areas totalling 12,400ha to schedule 4. In addition, all areas given classifications equivalent to current schedule 4 areas, such as national parks & marine reserves, will automatically become part of schedule 4.


Mr Brownlee said: "From my perspective this has been a valuable exercise.  I suspect few New Zealanders knew the country had such considerable mineral potential before we undertook this process, and I get a sense that New Zealanders are now much more aware of that potential and how it might contribute to economic growth.


"Essentially the discussion process identified where the minerals industry can & can’t go.  As many people have pointed out, around 85% of the country is not protected by schedule 4, and a great deal of that land has mineral potential.


"New Zealanders have given the minerals sector a clear mandate to go and explore that land and, where appropriate, within the constraints of the resource consent process, utilise its mineral resources for everyone’s benefit.


“The Government has also decided to undertake a significant aeromagnetic survey of non-schedule 4 land in Northland (in partnership with local government) and on the West Coast of the South Island to learn more about which areas have the highest concentrations of valuable minerals.


"It is our expectation that, when that data becomes available, there will be an escalation of mineral exploration & extraction in those areas, which will be of benefit to the economies of both regions.


“The technical exploration process will also make a major contribution to public-good science by identifying & de-risking a range of hazards associated with soil & rock instability, which will assist with management of earthquakes & landslides.”


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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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