21 Nov 2017

West Coast mining project given green light

6:32 pm on 21 November 2017

A proposed coal mine at Mt Te Kuha on the West Coast has won resource consent.

The proposed mine site at Mt Te Kuha near Westport Photo Neil Silverwood

The proposed mine site at Mt Te Kuha, near Westport. Photo: Neil Silverwood

West Coast Regional Council said consent had been granted, subject to conditions, for the Te Kuha Mining Project on the West Coast.

The greenfields open cast coal mine will cover 144 hectares, with 12h on conservation estate.

Stevenson Mining said it would employ 58 people and mine 250,000 tonnes of coal annually, much of it to be exported for steel making.

Stevenson argued the mine made good economic sense but objectors such as Forest and Bird and Coal Action Network Aotearoa said it would be environmentally harmful.

The joint application between West Coast Regional Council and the Buller District Council attracted 744 submissions.

Forest and Bird said the mine would remove a mountaintop visible from Westport and push threatened species closer to extinction.

Spokesperson Jen Miller said the organisation was saddened by the decision but was yet to consider whether it would appeal the decision.

The council chief executive Mike Meehan said the process had been robust and involved various experts who helped the panel of commissioners reach their final decision.

The decision is subject to a 15-day appeal period and the mine will still need permission from the Minister for Conservation for access across conservation land.

It also faces a hearing in the High Court in Christchurch over conflicting pieces of legislation that affect the proposal.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs