16 Jun 2018

'There is a place for boutique mining' - Buller mayor

5:18 pm on 16 June 2018

The Government's decision to block the development of part of a coal mine on conservation land near Te Kuha has angered Buller's mayor.

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An aerial view of intact forest that will be cleared if the mine goes ahead. Photo: Neil Silverwood

Rangatira Developments wants to take 250,000 tonnes of coal annually from an open cast mine that would cover 109 hectares in total.

The Government has turned down their application to mine 12 hectares of conservation land for the project.

But Buller Mayor Garry Howard said the decision put the whole project, and 60 jobs, in doubt, as the land in question was at the entrance to the larger site.

"It has a large effect for employment and we're trying to diversify from mining but there is a place for boutique mining such as this one."

Mr Howard said DOC had 1.6 million hectares of land on the West Coast, and this application involved just 12 hectares of it.

Buller mayor Garry Howard

Buller mayor Garry Howard Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

The plan to mine on conservation land was about 10 percent of a proposal to build a large opencast mine.

The plan was challenged by Forest and Bird in the courts but gained approval in the High Court earlier this year.

Today the Conservation Minister, Eugenie Sage, said she turned down the application to mine conservation land because it would create irreparable damage to the area.

She said it was an undisturbed area with threatened plants and wildlife including the great spotted kiwi, land snails and lizards.

It's not clear whether the rest of the project will still go ahead.

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