Monday, September 23, 2019

Cracking down on mining

NZ Energy and Environment Business Week reports (in Scoop) that the government is finally moving on reforming the Crown Minerals Act, including banning mining on conservation land and repealing the hated Anadarko Amendment:

The Government is planning to change the Crown Minerals Act’s purpose from “promoting” mining in light of changing priorities including environmental concerns.

A Cabinet paper seeking agreement to the terms of reference for the Crown Minerals Act Review, shows the Government’s priorities in the review include whether the purpose of the law should more closely reflect “wellbeing” principles. It also wants to make changes to land access provisions to take into account the Government’s proposal to ban mining on conservation land. The paper also discusses ending the Block Offer process for oil and gas exploration.


Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods told ministers that issues proposed to be in-scope of Tranche Two (Tranche One was the decision to ban new oil and gas exploration permits outside onshore Taranaki) included; the fundamental role of the CMA and the purpose statement; Land access arrangements; Non-interference provisions; Liability and financial assurance; Iwi engagement and community participation and Petroleum permitting.

"Land access arrangements" means access to government, including conservation, land. "Non-interference provisions" means the Anadarko Amendment, which criminalises protest at sea against the oil and gas industry. These changes are welcome and necessary, especially meeting the government's promise to ban further mining in the conservation estate. But in the long term, the change to the purpose also looks vital. Because it has become clear that mining is neither socially not environmentally responsible. The fossil fuel mining industry is currently threatening to make the Earth uninhabitable. Other forms of mining are environmentally destructive while bringing little benefit to communities. The industry needs much tighter regulation - and a few outright bans e.g. on fossil fuels - to come even close to sustainability.