Mining divides New Zealanders

By Susan Edmunds

Women and younger generation least in favour
of drilling for coal, gas or oil

Greenpeace staged an at-sea protest. Photo / Nigel Marple
Greenpeace staged an at-sea protest. Photo / Nigel Marple

A poll reveals a striking generation gap in attitudes to mining. Ten new exploration licences were granted last year, five offshore and five onshore, including to Australian Woodside Petroleum and Norway's Statoil.

Greenpeace staged an at-sea protest, then asked the High Court to stop Anadarko drilling off the North Island's west coast.

A Herald on Sunday/Key Research poll asked respondents whether they supported drilling and mining in New Zealand for coal, gas or oil.

A third said they did not support mining of any kind and there was less than 50 per cent support for almost all the types of mining cited.

Thirty-nine 39 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 supported mining beneath the sea, outside the 200-mile limit, compared to 65 per cent of people aged over 75.

Just under 40 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds did not support mining at all, compared to 16 per cent of those over 75.

Only 15 per cent of women supported mining beneath the sea, inside the 12-mile limit, compared to 22 per cent of men.

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said he would like to do more to engage with groups who couldn't see the benefits of mining.

"(Young people) stand to gain the most from resource exploration and development through higher-paying jobs, a modern, smart, clean, green economy, intergenerational wealth resources that will be created and infrastructure," Bridge said.

All age groups found the idea of undersea mining outside the 200-mile limit the most palatable. Green MP Kennedy Graham said this was probably due to drilling being "out of sight and out of mind".

The Government is consulting on a proposal for the public to no longer be notified when exploratory permits are granted - only when production is proposed. But Bridges said mining companies would have to satisfy environmental requirements.

Greenpeace NZ executive director Bunny McDiarmid said groups would keep up the pressure to back away from fossil fuels.

- Herald on Sunday

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