It is time for a strategic focus on what minerals we need for the future, and where we are going to get them from, says Straterra chief executive Josie Vidal.
Parliament’s Environment Select Committee inquiry on seabed mining presents a valuable opportunity to understand the importance of minerals to society and the potential seabed mining has to offer New Zealand, Straterra says in its submission.
“Almost everything we depend on every day is either made from minerals or relies on minerals for production and distribution,” Vidal says. “So, we can’t just ignore mining.
“A green tech future will be reliant on more minerals being mined, including for the likes of electric vehicles, the batteries that operate them, and the electricity sourced to power those batteries.
“It is clear we have viable mining opportunities within New Zealand’s territorial sea and exclusive economic zone to source critical minerals the world is after. We should be guided by research and science and be prepared to take some calculated risks to benefit from these.
“There are potentially billions of dollars of export receipts for New Zealand, and hundreds of jobs associated with seabed mining. Significant investment has been attracted to assess this potential and more could follow.
“Straterra believes this inquiry further cements the need to take a strategic approach to mining in New Zealand. We need to follow many other countries and develop a critical minerals strategy. We can’t isolate methods of mining (seabed or land) or what we mine until we are clear of where we want to go and how we are going to resource the massive societal changes ahead of us, including renewable energy and a heavy reliance on electricity.
“Bans, such as those suggested for seabed mining, won’t stop mining. They will shift it to places that might not have the strict controls like New Zealand does. We will continue to import those minerals and the products made from them, turning a blind eye to provenance, and adding costs to New Zealanders.
“Mining in New Zealand is governed by stringent environmental rules as well as strict employment and health and safety laws. We expect seabed mining to be no different.
“Assessing mining applications on a case-by-case basis, as our regime already does, makes the most sense. We acknowledge the environmental impact seabed mining can have and we emphasise the importance of having a sound regulatory framework to manage this.
“New Zealand is the ideal country to set the highest standards for seabed mining, as we have done for mining on land.
“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,” Vidal says.
Straterra is the industry association representing New Zealand’s minerals and mining sector.