The head of the world’s largest environmental conservation authority has
taken an “almost unprecedented step” of criticising the New Zealand
Government for its stance on mining the country's conservation estate.
Julia Marton-Lefevre, the director-general of the International Union
for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), wrote to Prime Minister John Key to
express the “serious” and “deep” concerns of her organisation.
The Government has proposed removing areas of New Zealand’s conservation
estate from schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act – a list of protected
areas deemed to have special environmental accord.
World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) chairman Nik Lopoukhine
joined Ms Marton-Lefevre as a signatory on the IUCN letter which stated
that the Government’s decision would risk New Zealand’s “valued IUCN
member” reputation and also its standing in the international arena...
of biodiversity conservation”.
New Zealand’s WCPA spokesman Bruce Jefferies, of Wanaka, said the letter
was an “almost unprecedented step from the IUCN".
“The apolitical organisation, the world’s oldest and largest
environ-mental network, rarely took a direct step to involve itself with
the policy of governments,” he said.
by Stephen Leary
The untapped potential estimates described
in the discussion paper are extremely optimistic desk top studies based
on a geologist’s best guess, not on science.
Geology is the primary influence on mining
methods that can be used to mine a mineralised system, not the wish to
minimise environmental impacts. The geologic reports do not
differentiate between mineralised systems that can be exploited by
low-impact underground methods or those that are only exploitable by
open pit (cast) or high impact bulk underground methods. If the
government wishes to allow only low impact mining then many prospects
listed in the reports need to be removed and the figures adjusted
Stephen Leary is an experienced
exploration geologist with extensive and varied experience directly
related to locating and assessing the value and economic viability of
He has worked for the past 15 years in NZ,
Australia, Canada, Europe and South America receiving a number of
international awards for excellence in his field. The comments above are
extracted from his submission on the review of Schedule 4.