Coal rule changes welcomed

17 April 2024

Media release

The mining industry welcomes the Government’s announcement today that there will be law changes to align coal with other forms of mining, says Straterra chief executive, Josie Vidal.

“The announcement by Resources Minister Shane Jones was music to our ears and a good sign the Government has been listening to reason from the mining industry,” Vidal says.

“Straterra has been clear in our view that the 2030 end-date for non-coking coal, and the prohibition on any new mining for coal, as provided for in the national direction instruments to be amended, is both an inappropriate use of biodiversity and freshwater policy and, fundamentally poor policy.

“Those instruments ignored the fact that the impacts of physically extracting coal are the same as those from mining other minerals. The approach also failed to engage with the issue of managed transition away from fossils fuels in a way that does not compromise New Zealand’s energy security or directly increase emissions globally. So, this announcement is significant and welcomed.

“There is still a need for coal, both in New Zealand and globally. Until there are affordable, accessible, readily available alternatives, supply must remain. If domestic supply is cut off, we will be importing coal.

“It is important to note that mining in New Zealand is done to the highest standards of health and safety, with well-regulated employment conditions, and stringent environmental protections. This is not the case everywhere in the world.

“In New Zealand, coal is used in food production, for energy security, and industrial production, such as for steel.

“Our coking coal is a valuable export and coal also has a role in powering our export sector, including food production. Coal is in our top two exports by value to India and there are significant customers throughout Asia for our low ash coking coal. It could be argued that using New Zealand coal is better for the environment than coal from other sources.

“Straterra supports development being considered on its merits, on a case-by-case basis. Those merits should span social, economic, environmental, and cultural considerations.

“We are ready for a broad national discussion about the role of minerals in the economy and a strategy that feeds into an export-led economic recovery.

“It is important that the country prepares for the very real possibility that coal and other fossil fuels need to be retained as back up fuel for renewable generation for longer than envisaged. The lights need to stay on.”

Straterra is the industry association representing New Zealand’s minerals and mining sector.

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