A decision in the High Court has gone against the anti-mining group Forest and Bird in its persistent quest to halt a significant new coking coal mine near Westport.
Resources and infrastructure reporter for Radio New Zealand, Eric Frykberg, said Stevenson Mining had earlier won resource consents for its Te Keha mine up the Buller River that would employ 58 and mine annually about 250,000 tonnes of coking coal for export.
Frykberg said Stevenson Mining had teamed up previous holders of a mining licence for the area, Rangitira Developments.
While it won resource consent in November from Buller District and West Coast Regional Councils, this was appealed by Forest and Bird which also fought a separate legal campaign over an earlier decision by Buller District Council to allow the mining company access to its Water Conservation Reserve.
Radio NZ said the council then rescinded that decision after being threatened with legal action from Forest and Bird. Rangitira replied by challenging that reversal in the High Court.
Frykberg said that case has now produced a verdict, and it went against Forest and Bird. The court argued the original approval of access - granted under the Crown Minerals Act - had higher legal standing than the Reserves Act that Forest and Bird had relied on to block access.
Forest and Bird told Radio NZ it was considering taking the case to appeal. Its other appeal - against the actual granting of resource consent - awaits a trial date.
Frykberg said an extra potential hurdle awaits the mining company, as it would need some access across conservation land. The new Government through the Greens Party member who is Conservation Minister, Eugenie Sage said it did not want any new mines on conservation land. Prior to becoming a politician Ms Sage worked for Forest & Bird.
Eric Frykberg said the actual mine would not be on conservation land, but some access-way would be.
Sources: radionz.co.nz & nzresources.com
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