Mineral sector lobby group Straterra believes New Zealanders
support mineral exploration and mining as an avenue towards
economic prosperity, but is concerned public awareness still
needs to be boosted.
Straterra chief executive Chris Baker said results of a
recent 1000-person national poll, showing support and
understanding in percentages beyond 70%- 80%, were
"surprising", given "the perception that there is a lot of
opposition in New Zealand to mining, such as [mining] lignite
"These results prove otherwise. They [the percentages] are
high enough to be a game-changer," he said in an interview
The poll found 81% believed it was "very important or quite
important" to develop New Zealand's natural resources for
prosperity, while 77% were "very concerned or quite
concerned" about New Zealand's standard of living.
Mr Baker said the results revealed most New Zealanders
supported responsible exploration and mining for minerals,
"contrary to what a vocal and persistent minority would have
"But the results also show relatively poor public
understanding of the reality today of minerals activities in
New Zealand," Mr Baker said.
"The misinformation advanced by parts of the community,
however well-intended, does not help informed debate on our
economic future," he said.
He did not identify any group, but the very public, ongoing
legal challenges brought against West Coast coal-mine
developer Bathurst Resources by Forest and Bird and the West
Coast Environment Network have, at times, prompted public
claims and counterclaims on the effects of the proposed strip
While the poll found 59% "agreed or agreed strongly" with
development of New Zealand's natural resources, Mr Baker
emphasised the higher percentages who "agreed or agreed
strongly" that: the environment was protected (79%); local
people were employed (84%); the minerals sector boosted the
economy (83%); money generated stayed in New Zealand (82%);
and that mining work was done by New Zealand companies (78%).
He said the facts were that the environmental effects of
exploration and mining were managed, New Zealanders were
employed and a contribution to the economy did occur.
"Most of the money stays in New Zealand as salaries, taxes,
royalties, rates, fees, community contributions and payments
to suppliers," Mr Baker said.
On the question of foreign investment, Mr Baker said that as
with the wine industry and other sectors, there was a high
level of foreign investment in the minerals sector because
risk capital had to come from somewhere.
While Straterra wanted to put education programmes in place
soon, it was about to enlarge its communications team in
Wellington and had arranged a briefing for politicians next
week, Mr Baker said.