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25/1/2019 — General
The last edition of NZResources
By Ross Louthean

It is with sadness that Silver Budgie Pty Ltd announces that this will be the last posting of NZResources.com after almost a decade of operation.

The website was launched at an AusIMM annual NZ Mining Conference in Queenstown in good times for the industry and we followed affairs at major conferences and technical events since in New Zealand, and at Diggers & Dealers, the RIU Explorers Conference and The Good Oil Conference in Western Australia.

The site will remain open as we have a wonderful search engine that will allow readers to check on thousands of reports on companies, commodities and events in the past.

Why are we closing? The regression under the Ardern Coalition Government has been dramatic, and some of the myopic comments show that many logical things are missing in the current Government, including:

  • Jacinda Ardern’s charisma is one thing but her obsession with climate change is a major over-reach for NZ and has already gutted investment in oil and gas production vital to the economy and may go so far as impacting the competitiveness of agriculture.
  • Coal being vilified when it is still a major export earner and contributor and unfortunately its demand in late 2018 saw imported coal being required to keep the back-up swaption requirement of the Huntly power station to fill in for unreliable phases for renewable energy, through lack of rain or wind. Has it been forgotten that there is NZ Steel and it and the rest of the steelmaking world need coking coal.
  • A small sign of the exploration investment exodus from NZ has been this website losing many of its non-Kiwi corporate subscribers in the past year. The Greens may cheer but the economy in the long term won’t. Companies that have walked away from NZ include TAG Oil of Canada which was a major contributor over the decades, and the loss of major explorers like Newcrest, Evolution, and Newmont had a lot to do with ponderous red tape.
  • For the international industry, NZ puts the cart before the horse, where explorers are welcomed in, spend millions on exploration and mining technology only to then be rejected on gaining resource consents. In Australia, the mining consents or rejection occur well before the middle for development, rather than at the conclusion.

As an Australian who over decades has encouraged international speakers and companies to come to NZ, I realised four decades ago there is a strong sentiment for the environment, as there is in Australia.

Government across the ditch and the media put the argument for exploration and mining in perspective for resource development, and that is why mining and petroleum developments carry the economy and its royalties and taxes are a major prop for education, research, and funding social demands. The questionable and often unscientific claims of Greenpeace, Coromandel Watchdog, anti-coal activists, and KASM would gain less rubber stamping in the Australian media.

Australia is now a global leader in gas supply, while New Zealand could run out of gas in a decade or less.

There is confident talk about electric vehicles (EVs) in NZ, assisted by the energy companies adding EVs to their fleet. The talk is less effusive in Australia where there is a tyranny of distance and petrol is at least $1 cheaper per litre. For those trekking between Perth and Kalgoorlie (a 600 kilometre drive) the concept of using an EV right now is foreign because of the absence of charging stations and an inability to sustain speed (110 km/h).

EV’s will be the future, and NZ may move a lot quicker than Australia, but the suggestion by Energy & Resources Minister Megan Woods that there could be a future in the country producing battery minerals could prove to be naive.

There are two problems for this. (a) NZ is perhaps a decade behind Australia and many other countries in finding and producing lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and other battery metals (b) Some of the best target areas in NZ like North West Nelson are closed off for exploration and the Green Party’s advocacy for No New Mines on DOC Land helps other targets to hit the political wall.

This is a shame for NZ has great science and research organisations like GNS Science and NIWA with the former playing a major role mineral research targets, earthquake and volcano research.

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is a nursery for junior explorers to make discoveries at home and overseas, whereas the smaller New Zealand Stock Exchange today barely has a resource stock. You need investor impetus to change this, and it is right now elsewhere than NZ.

Over the past decade NZResources has had fantastic support from journalists and industry organisations and the stand-outs have been our two Dunedin-based correspondents Simon Hartley and Dene Mackenzie.

There has been great reporting by groups like BusinessDesk, the business teams at Otago Daily Times, Radio New Zealand, NewstalkZB, the NZ Herald, The Press, Taranaki Daily Times and others. Despite the changing times for news media, this will continue through fair-minded and bold reporting.

The mining industry should support our competitor, the Matt Freeman media group, in reporting on mining and petroleum affairs and with its new annual conference which has the support of the AusIMM.

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