No new mines policy ‘shocking cynical move’ by Govt

A Government reboot of its no new mines policy has been described as a "shocking cynical move from the Government to shore up political support from green voters in an election year."

The mining industry has been blindsided by a leaked report that Labour is planning to push through a Bill later this month to ban all new mines on conservation land.

A Government spokesperson confirmed to media late last week "policy options have been progressed" through Cabinet and drafting of a new Bill is under way.

However, they stressed that final decisions were still to be taken and would require Cabinet approval before a Bill was introduced to the House.

"This is not what the Government promised," mining industry advocate Straterra chief executive Josie Vidal said.

"We don’t know what they are planning as there has been no consultation with the industry, as promised. The Government has also said it would resolve its plans for stewardship land before it looked at its no new mines policy. This makes a mockery of the stewardship land consultation."

At a time when global authorities were saying by 2030 alone the world would need 50 new lithium mines, 60 new nickel mines and 17 new cobalt mines to meet demand for electricity storage in a low emissions future, "why would you close off potential to access minerals critical to our future, including rare earth elements?"

Ms Vidal said mining made up 21.3% of GDP in Buller district.

Development West Coast chief executive Heath Milne said it could be the "death knell" of one of the most important industries on the West Coast.

"The potential impact on the region’s economy cannot be understated."

Mining was the fourth largest industry on the West Coast. According to Infometrics, mining contributed $183.3 million (7.7%) towards the economy, and directly employed 611 people for the year ending March 2022.

That did not include the flow through in the economy.

While the details of the proposed legislation were not yet clear, potentially no new mines could mean existing mines may not be able to renew their consents or extend to adjacent areas, he said.