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Source: Straterra Inc

A confounding issue for environmentalists is to save the planet, we are going to need more mines not less, says Straterra CEO Josie Vidal.
Today, speaking to the panel giving the Government advice on reclassification of stewardship land on the West Coast of the South Island, Vidal asked that due consideration be given to the long-term, big picture as the world moves to a low-emissions future supported by green technology made from mined minerals.
“While we appreciate that the review panel was working to narrow criteria, we believe environmental concerns cannot be addressed in isolation,” Vidal said.
“We urged the panel to give due consideration to how the environment sits with people, culture, and the need to have a functioning economy in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“We questioned the need for the stewardship land review to achieve greater protection for high value conservation land because such protections already exist under current legislation.”
Vidal said there would be a cost to lost opportunities with further restrictions for mining on conservation land.
“The critical minerals that will power green technology need to be mined somewhere,” she said. “They cannot be recycled at the rate and volume they are needed, though of course the contribution of recycling will be valuable.
“The West Coast has potential for such minerals, including, Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and Rare Earth Elements. GNS Science has assessed that much of that potential lies in the conservation estate.
“It makes sense to keep the option open for mining on conservation land to access these minerals. That is not to say it will happen at scale, or that it will be open slather.
“The current case-by-case approach allows for every application for alternative uses on conservation land to be assessed on its merits, against the conservation values present, irrespective of the conservation land category.
“We don’t want to see opportunities for creating wealth, jobs and healthy regional economies lost overseas.
“And we certainly don’t want to see our best and brightest off to Australia which is on the cusp of a mining boom to beat all others.
“While we fully support the Government’s conservation objectives, we believe the negative impact of mining is overstated. The truth is that mineral extraction, suitably regulated, can and should contribute to the solution.
‘’In fact, mining operations on the West Coast make a significant contribution to environmental rehabilitation, pest control and management, and into funding research and conservation for the Government.
“The real risk for biodiversity is with pests and predators, such as stoats, rats, and possums.
“Mining and other commercial activities can contribute to the funding of pest control. Mining is part of the solution to conservation, not the problem.”
Straterra is the industry association representing New Zealand minerals and mining sector.