31 May 2010

Minister questions Newmont motives on Schedule 4

10:27 am on 31 May 2010

Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee is questioning the motive of a major gold mining company's position on opening protected conservation land.

Public consultation on the Government's proposal to remove Schedule Four protection from 7000 hectares of land closed on Wednesday.

In its submission, Newmont Waihi Gold, which mines in Coromandel, calls on the Government to wait for more specific information on the most promising mineral deposits before removing any protections.

But the company says the rules would need to be changed to allow more exploratory drilling.

Mr Brownlee says Newmont has most of the mining rights for Schedule Four land on the Coromandel Peninsula, so it must not want any competition.

He says he assumes Newmont will relinquish all its mining permits in Coromandel when they expire in June.

Challenge to all sides - company

Newmont says its proposal is a challenge to all sides of the debate.

Spokesperson Kelvyn Eglinton told Morning Report it's a sensible suggestion to find an approach which all New Zealanders can live with.

He says there are areas of low conservation land on the Coromandel that should be explored further.

Greenpeace says Newmont's idea ignores the reason the land was protected. Executive director Bunny McDiarmid says the existing Schedule Four rules are already a compromise between environmental and economic interests.