A proposed new opencast coal mine on West Coast reserve and conservation land would push threatened species, including the great spotted kiwi, closer to extinction.
A resource consent hearing begins in Westport on Monday 18 September to consider Stevenson Mining Limited’s proposed Te Kuha mine, which would remove a mountaintop visible from Westport.
On Monday 25 September, Forest & Bird will present their submission arguing the significant ecological losses mean the consent should be declined.
A council report also recommends declining the application because of insufficient information, particularly on the measures to address acid mine drainage, which occurs when mining exposes sulfide minerals and sulphuric acid is formed.
“This mine will permanently destroy around 150 hectares of a pristine natural landscape,” says Forest & Bird Regional Manager Jen Miller. “We simply can’t afford to lose any more of these precious places – yet now Te Kuha is at risk of permanent destruction.
“Te Kuha is home plants and animals at risk or threatened with extinction, such as South Island fernbird, geckos, and 17 plant species including the native eyebright. We need to protect what we have left of these and stop propping up a dinosaur industry.
“These mining operations have consistently oversold on jobs and undersold on environmental protection,” says Ms Miller. “When the neighbouring Escarpment Mine was consented on Denniston six years ago, the hearing commissioners granted it with ‘considerable reservations and anguish’, and only because of the jobs promised for the West Coast.
“Today we have a mothballed mine that is growing weeds. Over at Stockton, the Government has taken on the liability of historic acid mine drainage, costing the taxpayer many millions of dollars.”