Residents call for sensible mining

Residents in the historic gold mining town of Kumara, pictured, are objecting to a minerals...
Residents in the historic gold mining town of Kumara, pictured, are objecting to a minerals extraction zone proposed under the combined district plan for the West Coast, Te Tai o Poutini Plan. PICTURE: BRENDON MCMAHON
West Coast residents have questioned the need for specialised "minerals zones" in the proposed new district plan for the region.

Several submitters, including some from Kumara and Barrytown, suggested using other zones or clearer rules within the proposed Te Tai o Poutini Plan (TTPP).

Those provisions could still enable mining without the need for separate mineral zones (Minz) as allowed for in the proposed plan, they said during a hearing in Greymouth last week.

A trio of Kumara residents said they favoured sensible mining in appropriate areas. But they questioned the need for a special Minz across 78.8ha of previously mined land right on the southern edge of Kumara township, a historic goldmining area.

Much of the proposed Minz is already pegged under a Crown minerals permit and the land is subject to a yet-to-be-settled application to the West Coast Regional Council for a mining proposal.

Submitter Karen Jury said under the Minz proposal, local residents would be excluded from any such proposal process.

"We would not be considered an affected party — which we are."

In a joint submission, Ms Jury, Murray Stuart and Rob Lawrence asked that the "enabling" approach to mining under the TTPP be removed.

"We are not opposed to mining ... we are opposed to mining happening in the wrong places or [not] being regulated properly," Ms Jury told the hearing panel.

The Kumara trio were "unapologetically Nimby" in wanting to protect the large parcel of land on the edge of Kumara from mining.

"We are growing as a township. This is the last of the basin for redevelopment."

Mr Stuart said the Westland District Council in the recent past had allowed a new subdivision within 100m of the proposed Minz, on Greenstone Rd, and that seemed inconsistent with a proposed mine just over the road.

Ms Jury said instead of "enabling" mining, the plan needed to follow the current Resource Management Act regime including ensuring affected residents and neighbours were heard.

If the plan appropriately addressed sensitive activity and its effects on the legitimate existing use of nearby residents, then it would not be left to them to go through an elongated resource consent process.

In response to questions from the panel, Ms Jury said they wanted appropriate separation between different zones to protect existing rights.

"We do want mining to occur in the right places, with the right standards."

An aerial view of part of the Barrytown Flats. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
An aerial view of part of the Barrytown Flats. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
Appropriate "amenity separation" would ensure the existing character of the township continued.

"We don't want to discourage people to buy and develop in Kumara."

Barrytown resident Marie Elder referenced her opposition to the TiGa sand mining proposal on the Barrytown Flats.

While some mining was necessary the effect on surrounding residents had to be considered, she said.

"I know we need these minerals — they need to come from somewhere — but just not this area."

As a result of the proposed Minz, and the recent TiGa resource consent process, the scenic Coast Road was in danger of becoming a "mine haulage route".

The Minz could enable up to 200 heavy vehicle movements a day, compared to the current maximum of 20 heavy vehicles under the existing Grey District Plan.

Ms Elder also said the enabling clause appeared to have been drafted in anticipation of the failed 2022 proposal by an Australian company to mine the Barrytown Flats.

While the new applicant, TiGa, had now succeeded, she argued there was still no justification for a mining zone which seemed to be based on a "dubious" process.

"It feels a little odd to me that a largely overseas company is embedded in setting our West Coast plan," Ms Elder said.

The hearing was adjourned pending further expert advice. — LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

By Brendon McMahon