Miner’s Monthly: April 2020

MinEx template for return to work under alert level three

In anticipation of an announcement later today on when New Zealand will return to alert level three, MinEx, the health and safety council for New Zealand’s mining and quarrying sectors has prepared a template to help extractive businesses develop a safe working plan for how to operate at alert level three in compliance with the restrictions outlined. A copy of this template can be found here.

MBIE outlines guidelines for operating safely at lower alert level

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, as part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, is encouraging companies and businesses to read the guidelines on the government website, which can be found here, to ensure they are aware of what rights and obligations exist at alert level three. MBIE says the main points are:

  • The parts of a business deemed essential at alert level four will be able to operate at level three in the same manner
  • The parts of a business deemed non-essential at alert level four may be able to start again, provided this can be done in a way that meets the guidance on the government’s website
  • Parts of a business that cannot meet with the government guidelines will not be able to operate

MBIE says for any issues that require clarification they can be contacted by email at energymarkets@mbie.govt.nz

Media focus on mining’s role in West Coast economic stability

he demand for coal and gold and the ability for these resources to be extracted safely due to the nature of mining operations involving a degree of separation has attracted the interest of the media as the lock down has worn on. 

Mining’s role in the West Coast economy will ensure stability as the country relaxes restrictions over the coming weeks and months. This will be underpinned by a high price for gold due to global uncertainty and the metal’s ‘safe-haven’ status compared to shares and currencies, as well as consistent demand for thermal coal for food production and space heating within New Zealand. 

The outlook for export coal remains uncertain but will rely on the recovery of Asian and North American economies, and their country’s own status handling Covid19, and of course, demand for steel. A good piece on this topic can be found on Inside Resources. 

Greymouth based gold miner and chair of the West Coast Regional Council chairman, Allan Birchfield, also argued the case for gold mining resuming as soon as possible. Speaking to Radio New Zealand he ventured gold mining is not only an industry that can operate safely but could also be deemed essential. The full story can be found on RNZ’s website. 

Minerals West Coast has also argued this point and sought support from West Coast local politicians for a return to business as soon as safely possible, within whatever regulations as would allow operations to be carried out. Local body politicians from the Buller, Grey, and Westland districts have all been supportive in this respect. For further information, click here.

State of coal industry in 2020 laid out in recent RNZ feature

This year Minerals West Coat manager, Patrick Phelps, started in an evening slot on Radio New Zealand’s show, Nights with Bryan Crump. The most recent interview covered the state of the West Coast coal industry in 2020, and its classification as and essential service through the alert level four lock down.

The first slot, earlier this year, was largely an overview of the history of mining on the West Coast and is included below.