No Right Turn makes a fair point.
The government has released some of the background geologists reports on areas it wants to remove from the protection of schedule 4 and mine. The one on the Parakawai Ecological Area [PDF] makes interesting reading. It identifies the primary resource in the area as “aggregate”. Yes, that’s right – the government wants to dig up an ecological reserve for a shingle pit.
Aggregate is not exactly rare. Statistics New Zealand puts the total resource as “undefined, but large” – meaning we have enough to last us forever. So why would we want to dig up a protected area for it? There’s plenty is[sic] less valuable parts of the country. It seems like pure ecological vandalism, driven by anti-environmentalist spite.
Yep, mining would destroy this area forever. It’s a valuable ecological area that is completely untouched by man.
Except for two quarries. And an access road.
Reality is that there is potential for gold under the surface. This report isn’t about where to put mines, it’s about where to look. I suspect that the aggregate potential means that the rock removed to get to the gold (if it’s found to be there) can be removed and used usefully, rather than being spoil that has to be dumped somewhere.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see a big fat gravel pit opened in an ecological area, and he’s largely right – the potential here is mainly gravel according to the report. I’d go further and say that I doubt you’d find even a single member of cabinet who’d want to dig up a valuable ecological area simply for gravel. But that’s idiot – he’s be prepared to believe anything bad about the National party, if he can find a way of reading it into an obscure report.
But this report does show us something. It shows us that, given the existing quarries, this area is a valuable illustration of how mining isn’t necessarily “ecological vandalism” at all, and thus ironically puts a dampener on the hysteria generated by NRT’s own post(s) on the subject.