Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The orcs are back

National wants to let an Australian mining company prospect on conservation land:

An Australian gold mining company is applying for consent to explore a large area of Northwest-Nelson conservation park land, but says it will only use hand-held tools in its exploration work.

Strategic Elements this week has been exploring 5559 hectares that contains the historic Aorangi gold mine bordering the Kahurangi National Park.

The company has been interested in the area for several years and in 2012 it gained a permit to study a 134 square kilometre area around the Golden Blocks goldfield.

It is currently seeking consent from the Department of Conservation to further explore a smaller area that includes the Aorangi Mine.

The Crown Minerals Act permits this sort of minimum-impact prospecting. But its sole purpose is to build a case for industrial gold mining in a highly sensitive part of the conservation estate.

The land in question should be part of Schedule 4. It was recommended for inclusion in Kahurangi National Park when it was formed due to its high conservation values, but excluded due to an unresolved Treaty claim. That claim has now been resolved, and thanks to the generosity of Ngāti Rārua the land has been gifted to the crown for conservation purposes. It should therefore be included in Kahurangi as quickly as possible. If its not, then I think we need to acknowledge that it is Ngāti Rārua's gold and that the government is violating its duty to protect it and its Treaty settlement obligations.