Minister touts strong mining f uture

Laura Mills

An extension to the Roa coalmine near Blackball, just announced platinum exploration at Murchison and oil strikes near Lake Brunner show the mining sector will “continue to grow and prosper”, a bullish Energy and Resources Minister said in Greymouth today.
Simon Bridges made the platinum announcement during a speech to the Minerals West Coast forum at Shantytown.
The forum comes amid mass job losses in the coal and gold sectors on the West Coast.
But the minister said New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals continued to see healthy levels of permitting activity.
It was considering an application for further underground coal-mining at Roa.
“We are seeing interesting petroleum activity on the West Coast, with local company (Gloriavale-owned) Ocean Harvest International Limited signalling their intention to drill an appraisal well in an existing oil discovery south east of Greymouth.
“Ocean Harvest is an example of a New Zealand company that has been diligently exploring the West Coast for more than a decade.
“They have shown their commitment to supporting the local industry by using local contractors and suppliers where possible.
“And finally, Mosman Oil and Gas have had a technical petroleum discovery on the Kotuku oil seeps.
“Though it is still early days, the company is planning to drill more exploration wells.”
Mosman would be one of the first commercial oil finds outside of Taranaki. At the very least, the discovery should increase interest in the Coast among other oil and gas companies, and lead to more exploration and investment.
Mr Bridges also announced the Government was awarding five platinum exploration permits to probe for metallic minerals to a new international exploration company — Canadian-backed Lynx Platinum Limited.
Three of the permits have been awarded near Murchison and two across Southland.
Lynx would spend almost $3 million over the first three years of their permits, with the potential to invest an additional $4.5m in the following two years if the initial work was successful.
“Lynx is the single biggest new entrant into minerals exploration since I’ve been Minister of Energy and Resources.”
There was strong interest in the country’s mineral resources from companies both here and overseas and “it’s only a matter of time until more discoveries are made and we reap the benefits”.
The Government had established the Regional Investment Attraction programme which identified investment opportunities and aimed to develop a compelling “pitch” for potential investors.
“I know the industry, and the West Coast in particular, is going through a challenging time.
“That doesn’t change my underlying confidence for the future of our minerals industry both nationally and here on the West Coast.
“If we look at the current state of play, there are still considerably more people working in the industry than there were a decade ago and, despite the recent downturn, I’m confident that the industry will continue to grow and prosper.”
Last year, despite the low international coal price, there was only a 6% drop in coal production in New Zealand, while gold production increased by 20% compared to 2012.
Roa principal Brent Francis said today the application was to extend the existing mine, and there would be no change in staff numbers.