The Energy and Resources spokesman for the National Party, Jonathan Young, has called on the Government to make a positive decision on access for the granted Te Kuha coking coal mine above Westport on the West Coast.
Young said he visited the proposed mine site recently and said this project must be delivered for Westport. The West Coast down has been hit hard by the earlier coal price recession and court issues involving anti-mining groups such as Forrest & Bird.
His comments come at a time when the new Government with its Green Party ministers has claimed there would be no mining on Department of Conservation (DOC) land. Te Kuha needs an access area through DOC land.
“The Te Kuha Mine is a crucially important regional development opportunity for Westport and the Buller region,” Young said.
“Fifty-eight high paying jobs would make a big difference to a region that’s had some tough times. And those pay packets will flow into more jobs in the retail and service sectors in Westport. It’s a big deal for the town, and local MP Damien O’Connor should be supporting it, Young said.
He said the Government’s new policy that will stop new mining on DOC land needs to be rejected. Not all DOC land has high conservation value, and modern mining ensures sites are rehabilitated with net environmental benefits to the region.
He said a 497 hectare biodiversity management and habitat enhancement programme will be developed adjacent to the Te Kuha mine as well as a further 5,000 hectare programme off-site.
“It’s important to understand that the high-grade metallurgical coal from this mine can be used for the development of products like activated carbon used in filters for water and air purification and in kidney dialysis machines.
“Te Kuha coal is most likely to be used for steel production. Today’s renewable electricity infrastructure requires high quality steel. Whether it is for wind, hydro or geothermal turbines, high pressure water and steam piping, or the cables electricity runs through, it’s definitely still part of our future.”
Young added: “The Government is incredibly myopic if they think closing down the opportunity to extract such high grade coal is in the best interests for New Zealand or the West Coast, or will accelerate us to a net zero carbon future.
“That future needs the high quality products Te Kuha coal can create.”