Buller Mayor Garry Howard said he was dismayed at Bathurst's
announcement that it would be shedding 29 jobs.
"Today's news that Bathurst will not be proceeding to open
its Escarpment Mine on the Denniston Plateau as planned, is
devastating for the company and the Buller community.
"Bathurst staff have been passionate people who have become
involved in our community and we feel for them as they face
this bad news."
However, Mr Howard said he understood the position the
company had found itself in, and accepted that the long-term
future was better served by the delay. It was still a bitter
pill to swallow, he said.
Mr Howard also took a swipe at environmental groups such as
Forest & Bird, which had previously launched a series of
high-profile court appeals against the proposed Escarpment
The group launched appeals to the Environment Court, the High
Court and the Supreme Court to prevent the mine from going
"It is simply criminal to see a well-intentioned regulatory
process abused and manipulated by out-of-town extreme
elements intent on frustrating legitimate and reasonable
developments," said Mr Howard.
"Concession after concession has been made but these
appeasements never seemed to be enough. The delays continue
and the legal costs have burned cash that should have been
invested in infrastructure."
Today the district had been left with the consequences of
those appeals, which was job losses, he said.
Mr Howard said the local community was running out of
patience with the "misrepresentation and false propaganda
used by people who had no stake in the local community".
"What has happened to Bathurst must not be allowed to
continue. Mining is one of this country's biggest export
earners and it is the single biggest contributor to the
He said the Buller District Council would continue its
efforts to ensure the final approvals for Escarpment were
brought into being as soon as possible.
However, the local community held deep fears about the
message the Bathurst "debacle" had sent to investors in the
New Zealand economy.
"We want to send a serious message to the Government. The
existing process is not fit for purpose."
There needed to be areas in New Zealand identified and
designated to allow mining as a permitted activity, provided
the appropriate environmental safeguards were in place. "If
that requires new legislation so be it," said Mr Howard.
- By Ben Aulakh and Kim Fulton of The Westport News