The beleaguered resource sector can take some positives from
Minister for Energy and Resources Simon Bridges, who has not
ruled out more streamlining of resource consents processing,
which has hamstrung or delayed some operations.
He also announced more competitive block offers for the
industry, yesterday opening about 8000sq km in the central
North Island in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato for epithermal
gold exploration, and confirmed aerial geological data
collated over the West Coast would be released this week.
Also, a platinum block offer in the South island would
formally be announced later in the year, in an effort to spur
interest and exploration, following iwi and community
Mr Bridges addressed the annual New Zealand branch conference
of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM)
in Nelson yesterday, where the more than 370 delegates are
facing difficult times with rising costs, falling global
commodity prices and lack of investment capital.
Many have said this cycle has been worse than the global
''The industry has copped some flack for being boom and bust.
But that's not backed up by facts,'' Mr Bridges said.
Exploration expenditure for 2012 was at a record $50 million
for the year, with $20 million in royalty payments, up to
8000 jobs and more than $1 billion contribution to gross
Mr Bridges is the fourth energy and resources minister in
five years, which has raised questions about whether National
is giving the sector its full attention.
Mr Bridges told delegates the Government ''has been
forthright'' with the sector, and saw plenty of
opportunities, despite lay-offs related to falling commodity
prices, and the sector was part of its economic recovery
''It [the mining sector] is not one silver bullet, but an
arrow in the quiver to achieve economic benefits,'' Mr
At present, resource consents can come under five separate
sets of legislation, meaning expensive and time-consuming
applications, many of which could be appealed.
When asked about streamlining this process, Mr Bridges said
it would be ''nice to have one super-law'' covering all.
''It has not been good enough, when the [resource consent]
process becomes the story,'' Mr Bridges said of Bathurst
Resources' more-than-two-year battle through court challenges
to get its Denniston plateau site to the production stage.
However, he said changes to the Crown Mineral Act had been
made and the Resource Management Act was under review.
Mr Bridges said there were about 1000 exploration and mining
permits across the country and a further 134 permit
applications being processed.
Opening up the Bay of Plenty-Waikato block offer yesterday
drew condemnation from Green Party mining spokeswoman
Catherine Delahunty, who said the Government was ''further
tarnishing '' the country's clean, green reputation.
''Gold mining in our conservation estate is no path to
prosperity for our communities. Many jobs in the central
North Island, such as agriculture and tourism, rely on our
100% Pure brand,'' Ms Delahunty said in a statement.
Mr Bridges said an earlier block offer in Northland, in 2012,
by permitting agency New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals saw
five exploration permits offered to three companies in the
''We're confident that the mining industry will experience
future growth,'' Mr Bridges said.
• Business Reporter Simon Hartley is a guest of AusIMM