26 Sep 2012

Support new mines, says Joyce

10:09 pm on 26 September 2012

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has told people lamenting the loss of mining jobs at state-owned Solid Energy to support fast-tracking of new mines on the West Coast.

The company is cutting some 460 jobs at the Spring Creek and Huntly East mines and its head office in Christchurch.

Mr Joyce says Opposition parties can't complain about job losses and then not support other initiatives to create jobs.

After the Government on Tuesday told a delegation of miners from the West Coast and Huntly it would not invest in Solid Energy to save their jobs, Mr Joyce went on the attack.

He called on the Labour and Green parties to support his call for objectors to Bathhurst Resources Escarpment Mine near Westport to withdraw their court action.

Environmental group Forest and Bird is refusing to withdraw the action against development of the open-cast coal mine on conservation land.

The group says Mr Joyce has hit the panic button as a result of the job cuts and is trying to deflect blame onto mining opponents. The appeal is to be heard in the Environment Court in October.

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage says the Government is just making excuses for the job losses.

Labour's West-Coast Tasman MP Damian O'Connor says his party does not object to the Bathurst proposal and accuses the Government of playing politics over the issue.