Mayor: Mine resource consent approval great news for West Coast

By Brendan Manning

Photo / File
Photo / File

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn says the resource consent approval for Escarpment coal mine on the West Coast's Denniston Plateau is great news for the district.

Bathurst Resources finally secured resource consents for its contentious Escarpment coal mine yesterday, when the Environment Court granted consents for the project.

The approval ended a projected battle with environmentalists opposing the proposed coal mine, Bathurst said in a statement.

Mr Kokshoorn said the announcement was great news for the West Coast.

"It's much needed jobs and it's certainly good for the New Zealand economy as well."

More than 200 jobs would be created by the mine over the next two years, he said.

There would also be "a huge amount of downstream jobs", Mr Kokshoorn said.

"It's going to be better for the northern part of the West Coast area, the Buller area, but there'll be spin-off for Greymouth from an engineering firm point of view.

"Some of the miners that have been laid off from Spring Creek and Pike River Coal will go up there and work, but we're still working with Solid Energy to open mines down here."

The Resource Management Act would protect the environment, he said.

"Anyone that actually works their way through the Environment Court and the Resource Management Act with their hearings, with commissioners and all that type of thing, they deserve to be in the position they are today."

Local residents also supported the decision, Mr Kokshoorn said.

"Coasters love the idea, we're quite comfortable with coal. Coal is an essential part of our economy and will be for a long time to come."

Bathurst Resources chief executive Hamish Bohannan said they were pleased to finally secure the consents.

"The consent procedure has been transparent and thorough and we welcome this final positive decision."

The company would now submit its management plans and applications to allow for mining to begin, Mr Bohannan said.

The proposed coal mine has been subject to numerous appeals since its initial approval in 2011, and most of the rulings have been in Bathurst's favour.

The mine got tentative approval from the Environment Court in March, which set out an action plan for Bathurst to rehabilitate the area once mining was completed.

Green Party mining spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said they were "deeply disappointed that the stunning Denniston Plateau will be sacrificed for a climate damaging open cast coal mine".

"The effects of this mine cannot be mitigated, not when it means the loss of a unique landscape and threatened species."

The decision was a blow to the climate, Ms Delahunty said.

"Coal mining is unsustainable. We need to keep the coal underground if we want to protect the climate and have a prosperous agricultural economy in the future.

"West Coasters deserve more stable and sustainable jobs than those provided by the boom and bust coal industry."

The Green Party applauded Forest and Bird for their strong and consistent legal challenge, Ms Delahunty said.

- additional reporting BusinessDesk

- APNZ

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