One of the most important things you can do is make a submission on new mining laws this week before the deadline at 5pm on Friday 2 November.

Here’s why: The Government has been working closely with oil and mining corporate interests to rewrite existing laws to favour exploitation and streamline access to what’s underground and under the seabed.

In August the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act was bulldozed through parliament. The Government ignored all intelligent environmental safeguards suggested in submissions and included much of what mining and oil companies wanted to access minerals and fossil fuels from 12 nautical miles, all the way out to the edge of the continental shelf.

Currently the purpose of the 1991 Crown Minerals Act is for “the management of Crown owned minerals” but this is proposed to become to “promote prospecting for, exploration for, and mining of Crown owned minerals for the benefit of New Zealand ...”. And in the same vein, right now law changes are proposed from the mountain tops, across the land and the coastal seabed out to 12 nautical miles.

Alterations to several Government Acts, including the Conservation Act, Reserves Act and Wildlife Act would give preference to mining and oil companies over protection. The proposals seek to give dominant power to the Minister of Energy and Resources - whose position favours mining, fracking and drilling - above the Conservation Minister and other ‘land holding’ Ministers.

It is a sneaky way of undermining public opinion around mining expressed in the huge Queen Street march against mining of 2010. Environmental precautions are absent. There are wide ranging implications for biodiversity including:

  • The habitat of Maui dolphin, critically threatened with extinction, has iron sand prospecting permits issued and the first application for mining is due any day.
  • Seamounts and other areas of the deep sea which have hard won bottom trawling bans, now have seabed exploration permits issued to mining companies. So companies wouldn’t be able to trawl the life on them to smithereens but a company could mine them.
  • Despite the huge march against mining in 2010, where the Government promised there would be no mining in National Parks and other schedule 4 areas, loopholes are being proposed that may lead to access.

If the combination of all these changes succeed, priority access will have be given to mining and oil companies from the mountaintops across land and seabed into the deep sea on the edge of the continental shelf. This is unlike anything we have seen before.

Make a Submission Here

We have a handy submission template should you like to download it here.