Mining submissions near 35,000

About 35,000 submissions have been received on the Government's mining proposals as today's deadline approaches at 5pm.

Ministry of Economic Development spokeswoman Tracy Dillimore said Ministry staff will be counting submissions into the night.

She said a final number will not be known until sometime tomorrow.

An official response to the submissions is likely to take a few weeks.

Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee said no opinions on feedback would be formed "until we've got the closing date over and done with and the proper analysis done".

It was likely to be sometime late next month before the Government would make an initial comment on submissions.

A small protest was held yesterday outside the ministry building in Wellington involving Green and Labour Party MPs, Greenpeace and Forest and Bird representatives and others feeding submissions into a makeshift letterbox.

Labour's conservation spokesman David Parker said he had not seen as many submissions on any issue during his eight years in Parliament.

"It shows people that political activism by them does make a difference, because we very clearly see the Government back-pedalling on what was always a ridiculous idea - which was to mine the national parks," he said.

The Government has proposed removing several thousand hectares of conservation land in the Coromandel, Great Barrier Island and Paparoa National Park from schedule four of the Crown Minerals Act, which protects it from mining, so valuable minerals can be extracted.

If proposals go ahead and mining is undertaken it will create jobs and wealth and contribute to a goal of lifting the economy, the Government said.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said the public was being increasingly exposed to the facts about mining, and regardless of any potential royalty revenue, jobs, or wealth benefits, the majority still wanted to keep pristine parts of the country protected.

- NZ HERALD STAFF & NZPA

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