A coal-mining consortium has applied for mining access to 12 hectares of Department of Conservation (DOC) land in the lower Buller Gorge on the West Coast.
Rangitira Development Ltd is planning to build an open-cast mine in the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area near Westport and in part of the Westport Water Conservation Reserve, as well as on privately-owned land.
The department said the mine would have an impact on the habitat of threatened native wildlife including insects, lizards such as the West Coast green gecko and speckled skink, and birds such as the South Island fernbird.
It said it would also damage the landscape value of the Mt Te Kuha ridgeline.
The proposed mine, which would employ 64 staff, would put an estimated $20 million a year into the West Coast economy.