The Economist Magazine slams NZ mining
The Economist has criticised the Government's decision to mine on protected land as part of an article lashing the country's green credentials.
Labour leader Phil Goff says the article, in an international magazine, showed the negative impact the decision was having and in Government Labour would reverse it.
The Government has proposed removing 7058 hectares from the protected status of schedule four of the Crown Minerals Act including Great Barrier Island, parts of the Coromandel and in Paparoa National Park on the West Coast.
The online article said opening up conservation land to mining was something the dwarves in the Hobbit might like but "is not popular with more elvish sensibilities".
"Energetic lobbying by environmental groups forced it to scale back the amount of land under consideration, but on March 22nd it announced that it still intended to open 7000 hectares of conservation land to mining, with other conservation areas to be surveyed for their mineral potential."
The article listed the move as one of several detrimental steps the Government was taking.
The article picked up on remarks in an earlier Guardian column criticising New Zealand for Greenwash over its 100 percent pure marketing claims while it continued to increase greenhouse gas emissions.
The Economist article acknowledged there had been improvements in some areas and saw the emissions trading scheme and global initiative on reducing agricultural greenhouse-gas emissions as positives.
"From an environmentalist’s perspective, though, these positives are outweighed by much larger negatives."
The article criticised elements of the ETS and the mining proposals.
"In many ways, the dilemma New Zealand faces is no different to that of other rich countries— how to balance economic growth with the need to address environmental degradation. But it is particularly acute in a country so dependent on the export of commodities and landscape-driven tourism. The difference between New Zealand and other places is that New Zealand has actively sold itself as'100 percent Pure'.
"Now that New Zealanders themselves are acknowledging the gap between the claim and reality, and the risk to their reputation this poses, it is time for the country to find itself a more sustainable brand, and soon."
Labour leader Phil Goff is visiting Great Barrier Island today to talk to the people there about their concerns.
He told NZPA that the mining would have a negative impact on New Zealand's reputation internationally as the article showed. The Tourism Research Institute had already highlighted that problem and most of the tourism industry opposed the idea.
"The plan is likely to be picked up by international media and there will be fall out... It may already have damaged New Zealand's reputation."
Mr Goff said Prime Minister John Key was happy with less than 100 percent pure.
"I'm not. If he takes these sensitive and important environmental areas that are currently protected out of schedule four we will put them back in."
The tourism industry was worth $22 billion, employed 185,000 people was a was long-term and sustainable and mining was not.
"He is damaging that industry for a short-term boom and bust few thousand job creation of the mineral industry -- it doesn't stack up environmentally and it doesn't stack up economically either."
Great Barrier got 50,000 visitors a year and tourism operators there were worried, he said.
"I think they get about 3 grams of gold for every tonne of ore, so what is going to happen to the millions of tonnes of ore they extract on Great Barrier, where does it go, what happens to the toxic tailings?"
Mr Key yesterday said there would be no open cast mining on Great Barrier Island or in the Coromandel.
"New Zealand's land mass is just under 27 million hectares and maybe, at most, 7000ha might be taken out of schedule four," Mr Key said.
"That's unlikely to turn back the 747s heading for New Zealand...and if it was going to have such a disastrous impact, can someone explain why we had a record number of tourists last year while there were 82 mines operating in the conservation estate -- with 74 of those permits granted by the Labour government," he said.
Mr Key acknowledged none of the 82 were in schedule four land, protected because of its high conservation value. He parried questions by asking MPs whether they thought any of the 82 mines should be closed down.