Brownlee says anti-mining lobby captured debate from start
Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee says the anti-mining lobby captured the mining debate from the start, adding that scaremongering has derailed the debate over the government's proposal to mine land protected under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act.
"The investigation suddenly became mining and the scaremongers out there said we're going to have thousands of hectares of conservation estate ripped up in mines," he said today on TV3's The Nation.
"That was never going to happen, it will never happen, and it is plain scaremongering."
Mr Brownlee refused to name a government agency he blamed for leaking the mining proposal. He said an announcement on whether the proposed mining would go ahead would be made soon.
Whatever the decision, Mr Brownlee maintained that mining was part of the economic future of New Zealand.
"The mining industry in New Zealand is likely to grow. Just where it grows is a discussion that I guess has got to be finalised," he said.
Mr Brownlee also said the government was unlikely to change the royalty tax it collects from oil production companies.
A Brazilian-based company, Petrobras, was this week been granted a petroleum exploration permit over the Raukumara Basin off the North Island's East Coast.
Mr Brownlee said the government was reviewing the royalty regime implemented by the previous Labour-led Government, and gave a strong indication that royalties would remain the same.
The government currently collects 20% of profits from a development field, plus tax.