9 Aug 2013

Mayor wants mine to go ahead

3:31 pm on 9 August 2013

The Buller district mayor says a proposed open-cast mine on the West Coast has been through a lengthy resource consent process and it's time to go ahead with the project.

On Thursday the Australian firm Bathurst Resources was granted interim approval by the Environment Court to open the mine on the Denniston Plateau, but that is still subject to legal challenges, and a further 27 approvals are required from local authorities and iwi.

Mayor Pat McManus says the mine is badly needed because of worker layoffs at the Stockton mine and the planned closure of the Holcim Cement plant in Westport.

He told Morning Report there has been an exhaustive Resource Management Act process during the past four or five years and he is sure the area can be mined in an environmentally friendly way.

Conservation group Forest and Bird says it still doesn't believe the mine can go ahead without significant environmental effects, and the organisation will decide within the next few weeks if it will take further legal action.

Some residents fear for the future of the district if the mine does not proceed.

Westport builder Frank O'Toole says many in the district are getting nervous that it won't go ahead and are delaying large purchases until they have job security. He says the mining industry is declining, but it is still needed until a long-term plan is developed for the West Coast economy.

The chair of Buller Electricity, Frank Dooley, says Westport retailers are suffering and the community is waiting for the mine and the 225 jobs promised.