Two years of delays caused by legal challenges have ended for
West Coast coking coal mine developer Bathurst Resources, the
Environment Court yesterday granting resource consents the
miner obtained more than two years ago from West Coast
Forest and Bird, at times with support from other
environmental groups, committed more than two years ago to
protecting through legal challenges the Denniston plateau
above Westport from new coal mining activities.
The many challenges, including those through the High Court,
Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, ended yesterday with the
Environment Court granting resource consents for the
plateau's escarpment mine.
Bathurst shares, which hit $1.70 about two years ago, had
been languishing around 17c, but rose to just under 20c after
Bathurst's managing director, Hamish Bohannan, said he was
pleased to ''finally secure'' the consents, noting it would
create jobs on the West Coast and national economic benefits.
''The consent procedure has been transparent and thorough and
we welcome this final positive decision. We can now submit
the management plans and applications to enable us to
commence mining works,'' he said.
Green Party mining spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty was
''deeply disappointed'' that the Denniston plateau ''will be
sacrificed for a climate-damaging opencast coal mine''.
''The effects of this mine cannot be mitigated; not when it
means the loss of a unique landscape and threatened
species,'' she said in a statement.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Energy and
Resources Minister Simon Bridges welcomed the consents'
''Unlike what opponents might say, this is exactly the type
of business investment New Zealand needs to create more jobs
and higher incomes for New Zealanders,'' Mr Bridges said.
Bathurst had spent about $300 million to date in acquisitions
and development, with only boutique mines providing cashflow.
It recently raised $24.9 million from institutional and
Australian investors, buoying its flagging cash reserves.
Up to 225 jobs will be created as Bathurst seeks to extract
more than 1 million tonnes of export coal per year.
There are estimates of an $85 million annual benefit to the
local economy, up to $30 million a year to be gained in taxes
and royalties and a $1 billion contribution to the economy
over the mine's life.