29 March 2010

Rod Oram on Brownlee's conservation mining

Rod Oram has a good column in today's Sunday Star Times on the Government's proposal for mining in Schedule 4 conservation areas .

A while ago, I was a bit surprised to hear Oram saying to Catherine Ryan on Nine to Noon that he supported a stocktake of the mineral value in conservation areas that are off-limits to mining under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act 1991.

However, Oram's logic is roughly;
We could be leaders in environmentally responsible mining, the science around it and the high-value downstream products and services flowing from it. Then we could prove that the economy and environment, treated well, can enhance each other.

But Oram considers that this will never happen under the Key National Government because;
  • National was vague about its mining intentions at the 2008 election.

  • Brownlee only takes advice from mining industry insiders.

  • The estimated mineral value, $194 billion, is not credible.

  • 'Surgical' mining is not credible.

  • Neither is the royalties-funded conservation compensation.

  • Nor are the assertions that tourism will not be harmed.
Oram concludes:
..Key and Brownlee are determined to use old-style adversarial politics to bulldoze through their high-risk low-value plans..

I couldn't agree more with that last point though I will point out that Oram leaves out the two important reasons for not going ahead with more mining in conservation areas (whether listed in Schedule 4 or not.
  1. Its bad for biodiversity to remove or further fragment indigenous habitats.
  2. Its bad for global warming as deforestation of forest for mine sites releases stored carbon.

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