Mining doesn’t have to be a dirty word

Moonlight sounds romantic but there wasn’t much romance in the dry, barren East Otago hills where farmers struggled from drought to drought.

There’s still no romance there, but since the area was opened up for gold mining there’s been plenty of life. Conditions on consents are safeguarding the environment and ensure that the land is left in a better state than it was before the mining started.

They’ve proved that mining doesn’t have to be a dirty word and there is no reason the same thing couldn’t happen in a few selected areas of the conservation estate with low conservation values.

When someone says National Park, most of us think of beautiful bush, glorious mountains and pristine water ways. But it’s not all like that.

Some of it’s like this:

There’s some native scrub and exotic weeds; it’s home to wild rabbits, hares, pigs and deer; it’s no where near tourist trails and it borders private land.

If there were minerals of value under land like this, they could be extracted with minimum disruption to the neighbours. One of the conditions imposed on the mining company could be that the land is planted in natives when the mining is finished.

This would provide jobs and income and leave the land in a better condition than it is now.

What’s the problem with that?

21 Responses to Mining doesn’t have to be a dirty word

  1. Adolf Fiinkensein says:

    The problem with that is that it might lead the country out of poverty and then there would be no need for a Labour Party.


  2. homepaddock says:

    Adolf – that sounds like another incentive for mining 🙂 but I’m sure they’d find something else to worry about.


  3. murrayg1 says:

    Actually, the comment is cranially-constrained, and the question is whether you came up with it yourself, or whether you were instructed to promulgate some spin.

    The Macraes effort is leaving a huge toxic-pond legacy, which will have to be maintained and monitored for 200 years after they leave. As I understand it, the ORC dissolved the need for a bond, and we got a paddock of billboards – sorry, an ‘art park’- instead.

    Our kids will fund, and cope with, the ongoing mitigation.

    Without getting any benefit whatever.

    That’s not just selfishness, it’s intergenerational fraud.



  4. homepaddock says:

    “whether you came up with it yourself, or whether you were instructed to promulgate some spin.”

    Everything I write is my own opinion. Nobody instructs me to write anything and I wouldn’t write what someone else instructed me to if they did.


  5. fredinthegrass says:

    Homepaddock, let’s face it, ‘mining’ is a dirty word.
    Extraction of ‘natural resources’ for the benefit of the population at large under a tightly managed regime that reflects the wishes of the majority of those people is acceptable – if somewhat verbose!
    We have currently more land locked up in the Conservation Estate than we have money/resource to look after it.
    The deterioration of the Estate is alarming and is of considerable concern to many charged with the responsibility of its upkeep.
    I look forward to robust debate on the issue, but fear accuracy/truth may just get in the way of extremist views.


  6. murrayg1 says:

    Underlying the whole – and the starting-point for any ‘robust debate’, should be the fact that we have – thus far – failed to account properly for ‘Natural Capital’.

    That includes holding the Conservation Estate (without deterioration) in legacy, and having the social maturity to be able to refrain from one-off indulgence on behalf of one generation.

    If we have not that maturity, the species is stuffed, the only question being when.


  7. homepaddock says:

    “holding the Conservation Estate (without deterioration) in legacy,”

    Who pays for that? Preventing deterioration is expensive.

    I agree that some conservation should be preserved but we have far more than we can afford and even the Commissioner for the Environment says we have more than we need.


  8. fredinthegrass says:

    Murrayg1, is the base line for the ‘estate’ where we are today, or do we account for the path that we as a nation took to arrive here?
    If the Commissioner is correct in saying we have more than we need, do we hold what we have, and fail to pay for its upkeep; or do we release a part to “pay” for proper management of the balance?


  9. gravedodger says:

    murrayg1. You would have opposed the development of the wheel on the grounds of the degradation of the environment, electricity for its inherent danger, fire for its potential to destroy, and every other step in the progress of man.
    Hire (don’t waste money and resources buying) a gas oven and closely inspect its interior with the gas running, some other person can turn it off for the benefit of the planet x two.
    Yes some of the results of mining can be argued to be less than ideal but your comments are the classic argument to support the theory “if you can’t do it, teach it” with the amendment in your case, exchange preach for teach.
    The peasants and other creators of the real wealth that have progressed us through time do not have the luxury of indulging in your esoteric debate as we have been too busy scrabbling a living for ourselves, our families,our communities and in modern times through taxes and rates providing for those who indulge in other seemingly unproductive activities. They live off our efforts idling or pontificating, erroneously as it often turns out, as to how it is all going to hell in a handcart.
    A classic present case would be the very questionable stance taken by the perpetrators of the great AGW theory recently discredited in large chunks. This is an unintended outcome of the way such research is funded. If the funding was rewarded from economic results and not from satisfying political theories for creating additional tax flows, controls and the resulting manipulation, how much of the discredited data would have seen the light of day.


  10. JC says:

    Mining is as good or bad as you let it be.

    Why did we modify 80% of our landscape for sheep and cattle farms.. not because we love animals that much, but because we need the money from the products.

    Why should we modify 0.5% of our landscape for mining.. not because we love mining but because we need the money, and because it modifies less land than farming, ie, its a vastly more efficient and environmental activity than farming.

    NZ has enormously modified its landscape and vegetation to make money off the sheeps back.. and the costs have been enormous in terms of erosion and dependence one major product to pay our way.

    Dairying is a more concise form of farming but likewise has its costs in pollution of streams.

    Exotic forestry is even more parsimonious in landuse and its costs contained to just 10% of the land area.

    Mining is extremely frugal in landuse and the costs are concentrated into tiny areas.

    Real conservation is about land use efficiency, not arm waving.



  11. Rimu says:

    There is no land with low conservation values in Schedule 4. The fact that it has high conservation values is why it’s in Schedule 4 in the first place.


  12. homepaddock says:

    Rimu – I find it difficult to accept that every square centimetre is of high conservation value.


  13. Red Rosa says:

    The reaction from the Sierra Club shows that the damage to NZ’s international tourist image is already done.

    Brownlie has vaguely mentioned $bns, but his numbers seem to be mostly based on lignite, or brown coal.

    The East Germans were great lignite users. It didn’t do much for their clean green image, literally or metaphorically.

    The remains of failed 19C mining ventures already litter NZ, many actually in today’s national parks. This just looks like another burst of greed and folly, though 100 years down the track.

    Plenty of private land these people can trash. Why get stuck into the national parks?


  14. murrayg1 says:

    Gravedodger et al – your time has come and gone. If a society can’t live within it’s physical means, then at some point it ceases. See Easter Island, the Roman Empire, the Sumerians, the Greenland Norse…

    I don’t eschew invention – indeed, I’ve probably invented more than most readers here combined – it’s the failure to live within sustainable parameters that I abhor.

    Theres a world – literally and figuratively – of difference.

    Rimu – what she fails to understand is the maths involved. Another few sq cm won’t save the fiscal system her way of life requires. It is based on doubling-time, not the odd barrow-load.

    Red Rosa – same comment. There isn’t ‘plenty’ anywhere – and me following Gravedodger’s instructions would only leave the fossil fuel supply further depleted! We’re simply into the last global ‘doubling time’ of them all.

    Google: Prof Alberty Bartlett then: mankinds biggest failure…..

    Left and Right are in the same boat. I’m all for clever, all for innovative – I do it daily. But – you can’t have 9 billion people using up the planetary resources at any rate beyond 1:1, for very long.
    Currently we are 6 billion, using it at 3:1, and that doesn’t last long either.

    Soon, there won’t be enough sand for all those folk to bury their heads in….


  15. murrayg1 says:

    Speaking of mining – I see that Pete Bethune has shown the moral fortitude that Murray McCully seems to lack.

    We haven’t come far from the BNZ days, eh Murray?

    What’s the old phrase about dogs and fleas?


  16. […] murrayg1 Says: February 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm […]


  17. homepaddock says:

    Murray – what’s the connection between mining and the pirate?


  18. murrayg1 says:


    Ah, you’re a long way gone, aren’t you.

    Mining of any resource is just that. The only difference with whales, is that they can slowly recover.

    I fugured you would wipe the post – so I copied it on my blog. Just remember I only respect people of integrity.

    On behalf of my children, that leaves you out.

    Which is why the comments about dogs and fleas – if you didn’t support those folk, they wouldn’t exist.

    This is not just a tug-of-war between blue and red anymore. This is a species in survive-or-not mode.

    I suggest you get your head around that. It will all fall out in the next decade – it can’t take longer.


  19. Andrei says:

    Murray you are not making any sense at all.

    For the species to survive we must have children and feed, cloth, house and educate them.

    To do this takes resources and mineral wealth is one of those resources.

    Your pessimism is extraordinary


  20. homepaddock says:

    “I figured you would wipe the post”

    Like Voltaire, I may not agree with what you say but I believe you have a right to say it. If you are profane or defamatory I’ll delete a comment and I might edit out abuse directed at a person rather than an opinion, but I’ll never delete anything just because I don’t like or agree with it.

    The manner in which a mineral is extracted from under the ground and the state in which the area is left when the mining is finished concern me.

    But why worry about it running out when if it’s not being used it might as well have run out without the benefits of using it on the way?


  21. murrayg1 says:

    Because we have to back off to the level of use of resources (you can learn how to assimilate finite-resource data) which is sustainable.
    Less hiccup by far to do it from the lower base, with something in hand.
    Planetarily, we went into overshoot in that regard, in 1980.
    Time for even the slow to learn.

    Andrei – on a finite planet, in a finite country even – it is you who make no sense. My question to you is: how long?

    Equillibrium for our species on the planet is perhaps two billion. At subsistence level.

    At our level of consumption, perhaps one billion (and some researchers claim less). Currently we are nearing 7. We’ve never been here globally before, so it is a little unclear how it will fall out. I don’t see a fiscal systen which requires growth, outliving growth. So maybe a crash, then some angst. That has to be between now and say 2016 at the outside. Do the math. Can’t be anything else. Have a look at Hubbert’s ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ USA peak oil projections – huge volumetric differences but months only in the timing. That is what happens with the Hubbert Peak, and what happens with ‘doubling-time’.

    By 2050, we will be down to 2 or 3 billion. We can choose to go there painlessly, with maturity and intelligence – or we can chew it all up, then scrap over the residue.

    On the basis that ignorance has been somewhat case-law’d and is accepted as no defence – I regard folk who insist in pillaging the place on their watch, without addressing the implications on the next – as criminal.

    Hence the lack of tolerance.


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