Energy Minister Dr Megan Woods says there are no plans to halt exploration for coal in New Zealand, despite the Government's recent move to halt new oil exploration permits.
She told Channel One’s Q+A programme that while it is possible it will happen eventually, there is currently no work taking place to make it happen.
Government ministers announced the halt to new oil exploration permits as a starting point what the Ardern Government said was a 30-year transition away from fossil fuels in pursuit of a net zero emissions economy by 2050.
No existing exploration or production rights are affected by the decision, but no new offshore exploration permits will be issued, with only onshore exploration permits in the Taranaki region to be issued, and a review to be done of onshore exploration in three years' time.
Channel One said some have speculated that a ban on coal exploration and mining permits could be next - New Zealand produced about 2.8 million tonnes of coal in 2016 and there are 25 mines across the country. Some produce coking coal as the critical ingredient for the steelmaking industry
Speaking yesterday morning Dr Woods told Q+A programme while a halt to coal permits could possibly happen in the future, there are currently no plans to make that happen or work being undertaken on it.
Dr Woods did, however, point to recent comments by Fonterra - one of New Zealand's biggest users of coal - saying they hope to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
She claimed the halt to oil permits “is also about leadership.”