Bernie Napp Continues Lignite Debate

Bernie Napp, Senior Policy Analyst, Straterra.

Dave Kennedy challenges me (January 28) to name New Zealand towns that have achieved average to above-average prosperity directly through mining coal or lignite. The real comparison is between a "mining town", if there is such a thing today, at that same town before mining.

In the case of Waihi, an aerial photo shows that the town has been built around the open pit. Were it not for this gold mine there would be little or no town at all.

Perhaps the closest thing to a mining town in New Zealand is Reefton (gold, coal), which had many new houses and freshly painted houses when I visited in 2010.

Mr Kennedy accuses me unjustly of an "attempt to misinform the Mataura people" by including oil and gas in the resource sector median-salary figure. Skilled underground coal and gold miners in New Zealand can earn more than $100,000 a year.

But to offer a vision for Mr kennedy, if mining was properly encouraged and managed in new Zealand, there would be more towns like New Plymouth.

The Government's upcoming review of the Crown Minerals Act 1991 is an opportunity to achieve that.

Bernie Napp
Senior Policy Analyst
Straterra

My Reply:

Dear Sir
I know that Bernie Napp (January 31) is paid to promote and support mining development but his last letter still avoids the reality of mining lignite. If our Environment Commissioner, Dr Jan Wright, has advised the government that lignite mining should not proceed then surely she and the many New Zealand scientists and mining experts who support that view should not be ignored.

You only have to visit the current New Vale mine and imagine the same environment, only on a vastly bigger scale, in the lower valley to realize the impact it will have on the local community. Farmers who live beside the new Vale Mine find the constant noise and the lighting at night intrusive and this will only get worse. These are the more obvious effects but the environmental and economic impacts from the huge increase in carbon emissions are more concerning. The claimed capture and storage of the carbon will not be possible or practical for some time.

The high salaries he described are related to underground mining where the dangers are obviously greater.

Bernie continues to imply that the future prosperity of the country is dependent on mining yet I thought it was farming and food production that is more important to our economy. The lignite mining will remove thousands of hectares of some of our most fertile farmland out of production.

We should also be able to choose what we mine and I would have thought our high quality silica has more potential, especially as it supports renewable energy, has fewer environmental impacts and will provide more employment opportunities.

Yours sincerely...

Comments

robertguyton said…
That's a very good reply, Dave, though I'd have left out the silica part at the end (your point was well made already).
I found Mr Napp's opening play typical of his sort of spinner;
"Dave kennedy challenges me (January 28) to name New Zealand towns that have achieved average to above-average prosperity directly through mining coal or lignite. The real comparison is between a "mining town", if there is such a thing today, at that same town before mining."

You challenged him to address a specific claim, but he's said, no, I'll talk about this ("the real comparison") instead.
Typical, but transparent.
Mr Napp needs to apply his mind to what is being asked, though I doubt he will. Those in his industry use that method of argument regularly. The Solid Energy team that spoke at the Chamber of Commerce meeting in Invercargill did it so blatantly that it was difficult not to guffaw out aloud.
robertguyton said…
" Skilled underground coal and gold miners in New Zealand can earn more than $100,000 a year."
I liked this too.
Those 'skilled underground coal miners' going to be a feature of the open cut lignite mines at Mataura, are they? And if there were to be any of those big earners, would they be local lads?
Nope.
Just nonsense.
bsprout said…
Thanks, Robert. I included the silica comment only because Bernie likes to imply we are against all mining. Most of his arguments are around the benefits of mining as a whole when we need to focus on what, where and how we mine.
JayWontdart said…
Great coverage of an important issue!

I interviewed Tim Jones of the Coal in the Hole protest for my Animal Rights show, sadly, I couldnt be out there with you, I interviewed Tim over Skype, ringing his cellphone! Its rather fun to hear one moment, where wind and rain forces him into a tent, that classic sound of a tent zipper going up and down!

http://www.coexistingwithnonhumananimals.co.nz/2012/01/episode-74-pigs-with-ipads.html

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