8 Oct 2015

Waikato-Tainui considers first right of refusal over mine land

8:44 pm on 8 October 2015

Waikato-Tainui says the closure of the Huntly East Mine will have a devastating impact on the community, but it is considering the first right of refusal rule when it comes to the land the mine sits on.

Huntly East mine.

Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Solid Energy has confirmed it plans to close its underground Huntly East coal mine.

The Chairman of Te Arataura, Waikato-Tainui's legislative council, Rahui Papa, said shutting down the mine will directly affect Tainui whānau who have been employed at the mine for a long time.

"It is a very gloomy day for the families here in Rāhui Pōkeka (Huntly)," he said.

"Some people have had an association with the Huntly East Mine for generations and now that it is poised to close with 68 people losing their jobs.

"And it's not just those 68 people it's their families, it's the community, it's the commercial entities in the town and the schools that will be impacted."

But Mr Papa admitted Waikato-Tainui will be talking to the Crown about its obligations to offer the land back to the iwi under First Right of Refusal.

"We'll do our due diligence we'll have a look at the opportunities that might arise from the closure of the East Mine in particular the sell-down of Solid Energy," Mr Papa said.

"There will be some environmental impact issues that we will need to navigate through with the Government, there'll also be some commercial considerations to go through with the Board of Solid Energy and the Government and we are ready to have those discussions."

Solid Energy will consider any feedback and make a final decision by 22 October.