17 Jun 2018

Conservation group pursues court despite mining project's part rejection

9:49 am on 17 June 2018

Forest and Bird will continue its court action against a West Coast mining project even though the Government has already rejected part of the proposal.

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

Stevenson Mining will be speaking to their lawyer, after the government blocked part of their planned mining project on the West Coast.

The government has turned down the application made by Rangitira Developments, to mine on 12 hectares of conservation land near Te Kuha.

Stevenson Mining makes up part of Rangitira Developments and its chief operating officer Anne Brewster said it was too early to decide whether the project would go ahead.

"Over the next few weeks we'll be looking at it, but in terms of the legal process, we need to talk to our lawyer about what action we can take. We're a bit shocked at the moment, to be honest."

It was disappointing for the company and the community, Ms Brewster said.

"They've had a lot of bad news on the coast in the past few years: First the demise of Solid Energy then the closing of the meat works and everyone in the community wanted this project to go ahead.

"It was going to give 60 jobs and then the flow on effects."

However, Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said this figure was dubious.

"Just a little further north from Te Kuha is the Escarpment Mine," he said.

"It was only a few years back the Bathurst [Resources] mining company was promising roughly the same number of jobs, they dug the place up and now there are only two jobs there because the coal price fell."

He added there was no prosperous coal mining town anywhere in the world, as it was a boom and bust industry.

The government decision comes at the same time Forest and Bird is preparing to appear in an Environment Court next month to appeal against the mining company's resource consents.

Mr Hague said at this stage the action would still be going ahead.

"For us the important thing is to ensure the whole proposal is stopped and it may well be this decision is enough to dissuade the company from proceeding, but if it isn't we'll be seeing them in court."