27 Aug 2011

Forest and Bird may challenge West Coast mine plan

4:00 pm on 27 August 2011

The conservation group Forest and Bird is considering an appeal to the Environment Court against the granting of resource consent for an open-cast mine and coal processing plant in the Buller district.

Buller Coal, a subsidiary of the Australian company Bathurst Resources, plans to develop the mine - which could be New Zeraland's biggest - on the Denniston Plateau.

Managing director Hamish Bohannan says they intend to get the balance right between mining on the plateau and safeguarding the environment.

Forest and Bird area manager Debs Martin says however that the plateau, which is on public conservation land, has a rare ecosystem and needs to be preserved.

She says the Department of Conservation would have to give the go-ahead for the development to proceed, and public consultation will be needed.

Company seeks trading halt

Buller mayor Pat McManus says the district relies heavily on mining, an industry he says has put behind it the practices of the past and now carries out mining and land rehabilitation to a high level.

He says there will be opportunities for appeals to the Environment Court.

Bathurst Resources has asked for a trading halt pending the release of the terms and conditions of the decision by commissioners who approved the consent.

Mr Bohannan says the company will look through a 200-page report from the commissioners over the coming days. He says they expected an appeal and will deal with it when it happens.