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14/2/2018 — Coal, Lignite and CSG/CBM
Sage’s reason for refusing permit
By Ross Louthean

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage has really shown her Green colours as she defended claims she has a conflict of interest over an application to purchase sensitive land.

Minister Sage, who also holds the Conservation portfolio overturned an Overseas Investment Office (OIO) recommendation that land containing the mothballed Sullivan coal mine in the Buller Coalfield on the West Coast be sold to Bathurst Resources Ltd (ASX: BRL).

Reporting on her response, Radio New Zealand said the Minister was vocally anti-mining and has led the charge on the Government's policy of no new mining on conservation land.

Opposition energy and resources spokesman Jonathan Young has questioned her objectivity over the decision.

Eugenie Sage told Radio NZ’s Morning Report her decision was made under the Overseas Investment Act and Young “has got completely confused here.”

The purpose of this act, she said, was to make sure sensitive assets were not sold offshore without delivering substantial benefits to New Zealanders.

She reportedly said: “In this case, with the mine closed since the 1990s, Bathurst having no plans to reopen it, the uncertainty around the coal price, what benefit was that going to deliver?

“Why should an overseas company that's 57% owned by Singaporeans, 22% by Australians, have the ability to buy sensitive land adjacent to conservation land on the coal plateau, rural land, when there is no certainty that will provide any economic benefit to New Zealand.”

As a rationalisation in tough times about 18 months ago Bathurst cut its dual listing on the New Zealand Stock Exchange because of that bourse’s low turnover for resource stocks. There would still be some New Zealand shareholders which Minister Sage did not mention.

OceanaGold Corporation (TSX & ASX: OGC) later also delisted on the NZX because of low trading traction.

West Coasters will be hoping the proposed new Te Kuha coking coal project above Westport beats an appeal in the Environment Court. This will be a vital new mining project for the West Coast which now has a high unemployment issue following the coal price blight of 2016 and early 2017 and the financial collapse of Solid Energy.

That court challenge is from the anti-mining Forest & Bird, of which Ms Sage worked for 13 years before entering politics.

Sources: radionz.co.nz & nzresources.com data.

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Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage in Parliament. Photo: RadioNZ.