Discussion on seabed mining welcomed

8 May 2023

Media release

Straterra welcomes Environment Minister David Parker’s announcement that he has asked Parliament’s Environment Select Committee to conduct an inquiry into seabed mining.

“It is good to see that Minister Parker’s Government will not support a member’s bill from Debbie Ngarewa-Packer banning seabed mining without looking at all the facts and evidence first,” says Straterra chief executive Josie Vidal.

“We are ready and willing for the conversation about the role that minerals recovered by seabed mining could play in New Zealand’s transition to a decarbonised economy,” Vidal says.

“The conundrum for environmentalists is that to reach low emissions goals, a lot more mining must happen around the world. The International Energy Agency predicts that by 2030, to meet the global demand for electricity storage, the world will need 50 new lithium mines, 60 new nickel mines, and 17 new cobalt mines.

“Without minerals there will be no energy transition. Solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles rely heavily on minerals.

“Straterra wants New Zealand to be able to seize the once in a generation opportunity that this demand for minerals offers. We need to continue to supply the minerals we currently mine and be able to tap into potential for other minerals that are here but are yet to be mined, including those in the seabed, such as vanadium and rare earth elements.

“For that to happen there needs to be a shift in thinking and conversations backed by science and evidence. It would be great if the New Zealand Government followed the Australian Government’s lead and put some money into research and science in this area, as well as supporting education in the sciences needed for mining.

“New Zealand needs to decide if we are going to be isolationist and import all our emissions; the preference of those who have a ‘not in my backyard’ approach to mining. Or are we going to work with other countries to ensure security of supply for the minerals needed for a global low emissions future. Are we going to be part of the movement, or stand back and let others do all the work?

“We have some advantages. We have a provenance to be proud of – mining in New Zealand is governed by strict employment and health and safety laws, as well as stringent environmental rules. We expect seabed mining to be no different.

“Anti-mining rhetoric that is not based on facts and evidence is turning people away from New Zealand. This won’t stop mining. It will shift it to places that might not have the strict controls of New Zealand law. And we will continue to import those minerals and the products made from them, turning a blind eye to provenance.

“It’s time for a more holistic conversation about environmental goals. They can’t be at the expense of people. Social, cultural, and economic impacts and advantages must be on the table.

“We feel very positive about the conversation Minister Parker has initiated,” Vidal says.

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

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