Key supports Solid Energy's lignite plans

Prime Minister John Key supports Solid Energy's plans to dig up lignite in Southland and convert it to briquettes.

A briquette is a block of flammable material, used as fuel to start and maintain a fire.

The state-owned energy company has proposed to covert its former Mataura mine site into a $25 million briquetting plant, which would make about 90,000 tonnes of briquettes a year from 150,000 tonnes of lignite.

The plan is opposed by environmentalists, with the Green Party saying large-scale mining in Southland could increase New Zealand's carbon emissions by up to 10 million tonnes a year.

Mr Key yesterday told an audience in Invercargill that he supported the plan and he wanted to see state-owned enterprises such as Solid Energy expand, the Southland Times reported.

"At the moment companies like Solid Energy are growth companies and we want them to expand in areas like lignite conversion," he said.

Southland also had future opportunities to convert lignite into urea and diesel, he said.

Mr Key said Solid Energy would have to adhere to the Government's environmental regulations and that would not change under the mixed-ownership model outlined in the budget.      

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