Some industry observers may be wondering if a goalpost or two have been moved with Department of Conservation (DOC) staff set to give evidence at an appeal against the granted resource consents for the Te Kuha coking coal mine on the West Coast.
In recent times DOC has contributed to the resource management of coal mining on the West Coast but now has a Conservation Minister in Eugenie Sage who has negative views about the industry.
DOC must be credited with supporting development of the Denniston Plateau coal museum and regional restoration.
She has already arbitrarily said no new mines would be allowed on conservation land, despite a lot of the conservation land that is hardly pristine having been vested in DOC decades ago.
Minister Sage is a Green Party member of the coalition Government and also was a member of Forest & Bird, which has fired in the appeal against the mining consents granted by the West Coast Regional and Buller District councils.
Radio New Zealand said the Te Kuha mine, in high country near Westport, would employ 58 people and mine 250,000 tonnes of coal annually, which would be exported for steelmaking overseas.
Forest and Bird was also one of the anti-mining groups that appealed through several courts years ago against Bathurst Resources Ltd (ASX: BRL) starting mining on the Escarpment project near Westport that was held up for years and eventually put on ice because of the sliding coal prices – after eventually winning in the Environment Court.
Forest & Bird’s chief executive, Kevin Hague, told Radio NZ that DOC would maintain the neutral stance they took during resource hearings during the appeal. But, he said, their evidence would be valuable to the process as some evidence could only be provided through DOC's expert personnel.
He claimed that during the Escarpment mine hearing for Bathurst that the court did not have access to conservation evidence that DOC staff would have produced.
A date for the appeal has not been set. Let’s hope it’s not going to be a process that takes more than another year, as it did for Bathurst.
Sources: radionz.co.nz; nzresources.com data.