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Te Kuha, near Westport, which had been identified as a possible site for a coal mine. PHOTO: NEIL...
Te Kuha, near Westport, which had been identified as a possible site for a coal mine. PHOTO: NEIL SILVERWOOD
National Party list MP Maureen Pugh has slammed a new nationwide petition which calls on the Government to stop any new or expanded coalmines, at a time when large amounts of coal are being imported to keep the lights on in New Zealand.

Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague launched the petition at the weekend at the Forest and Bird annual conference.

‘‘The coal industry already has years of consented mining; allowing new or expanded coalmines through the 2020s could lock us into high-emissions scenarios for decades to come,’’ Mr Hague said.

Maureen Pugh. Photo: Greymouth Star
Maureen Pugh. Photo: Greymouth Star
‘‘Open-cast coalmining in Aotearoa also has a direct impact on our native plants and animals, with a large proportion of mining occurring in unique and ecologically rich landscapes such as the Buller Plateau on the West Coast.’’

Mrs Pugh said she was particularly concerned that the Forest and Bird petition singled out the Buller Plateau as an area where open-cast mining should be banned, as the highly-valued metallurgic coal from there was used for steel production and in the manufacture of componentry for electronic devices and cars.

Mrs Pugh also said coal imports were at a 14-year high because the country did not have enough other electricity generating sources.

‘‘I challenge the petitioners to fill the gap in the supply chain that this leaves, because at a time when Covid has slashed tourist numbers, we need to be realistic about the global impact of a mining ban, especially on a region so vulnerable.

‘‘This petition is focused on banning mining whereas what we all need to be focused on is the uses of coal,’’ Mrs Pugh said.

‘‘We must also be vigilant that in the process of banning mining we don’t cause carbon leakage: if we stop mining coal, it’s simply going to be produced somewhere else.’’

Overseas coal would be produced, creating higher emissions than in New Zealand.

Mrs Pugh also asked how the construction industry would get on without steel and concrete, or how companies could build motor vehicles and electronic componentry.

‘‘I just don’t think that the proponents of this petition realise that their petition is focused on the mining of coal, rather than the uses of coal, which are very broad in the world today - I just don’t think they have actually joined those dots.’’

Mr Hague said Sweden had a new steel-making plant fired with hydrogen and more steel was being recycled.

He said Mrs Pugh claimed there was demand for coking coal, but there was also demand for nuclear weapons.

‘‘It doesn’t mean we should produce them.’’ 

Comments

Fossil fuels, especially coal, have had their day. The fact that Pugh can't see this gives me greater understanding over why the former failed national party leader, Bridges, wanted her gone from Parliament.
The country has a temporary need to fire up it's coal powered power stations. That's regrettable and and an indication of a lack of foresight by all Govts of the last 50 years. However, it is a temporary issue. It is not worth investing in reopening NZ coal mines, setting up a relatively few number of jobs for a short term. Better to import coal for the temporary need, NZ coal would be more expensive in any event.
Better to put the money into research and development of alternative energy sources that will reduce our dependence on coal.

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