World Nature Group Attacks Mining Proposals
by Matthew Haggart

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.


Another Viewpoint
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 accordingly.

Stephen Leary is an experienced exploration geologist with extensive and varied experience directly related to locating and assessing the value and economic viability of mineralised systems.

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.