A new report says Southland is well placed for future growth that could generate hundreds of new jobs and tens of millions of dollars even if a contentious lignite mining project does not go ahead.
The report by economic research company BERL says the engineering, forestry and horticulture sectors in the province could each bring in $60 - $110 million extra per year by 2026, creating 500 - 1200 new jobs could be created.
Solid Energy says while it is still in the early stages of its lignite coal project, up to 148,000 tonnes of the fuel could be mined there each year.
The report's author, economist Ganesh Nana, says Southland could easily add value to most of the commodities it exports.
Economic development and tourism organisation Venture Southland says the region should consider all options for economic development, and lignite mining should not be ruled out.
There have been strong objections to the lignite project from environmentalists.