Tuesday, June 02, 2020

This is not rehabilitation

When miners pillage conservation land, they are typically required to "rehabilitate" it afterwards. Its not much compared to the damage they do, but its something. But apparently even that is now too much to expect. NZG Limited, a company owned by Oravida directors James Blackwell, Julia Jiyan Xu, Stone Shi, and David Wong-Tung, has been mining gold in the Mikonui Valley near Hokitika. As a condition of access to conservation land, they were required to restore it afterwards, including recontouring it, replacing topsoil, and replanting it in native forest. But none of that has been done. Instead, all of these requirements have been quietly waived by DoC, and the area has been left looking like a moonscape:

A mine on conservation land on the West Coast conditionally signed off as rehabilitated has been described as a desolate wasteland.

The remaining condition for sign-off is one year of weeding.

There’s no topsoil, a gaping hole remains, and replanting, written as a concession condition, wasn’t done. The Department of Conservation (DoC), which signed off the rehabilitation, said conditions were changed after a discussion with the mining company. If rehabilitation is not completed, the company can lose the bond it paid when it gained the concession.

So rather than forcing them to meet their commitments (or take their money to pay for any failure), the conditions were weakened to allow them to walk away with their pillage free and clear. Its absolutely disgusting, and I am boggled as to why DoC or the Minister would allow it. But the article also notes that "no mining companies have left sites that have not been rehabilitated to the satisfaction of the Department of Conservation on public conservation land in the West Coast area". If that's the case, maybe someone should start looking at those sites to check that its not a similar story there.

Meanwhile, if this is an example of how a Green voice in government leads to better conservation outcomes, we're better off with them in opposition.