Miner’s Monthly: August 2022

Strong turnout for Reefton forum

Gold exploration, the future of the West Coast’s domestic and export coal industry, and mineral sands developments were among the line-up at Minerals West Coast’s 2022 forum in Reefton.

About 130 people made it along to the event held at the end of June at the Reefton Community Centre.

Presentations on the afternoon of the 29th of June started with a look at gold mining on the West Coast. This included updates from Mark Le Messurier of Federation Mining on the company’s progress re-establishing gold production from the Birthday Reef near Waiuta, as well as presentations from Paul Angus of Siren Gold and Simon Henderson of Reefton Gold, both of whom are undertaking exploration work in the Reefton gold fields.

The final presentation from gold producers was delivered remotely by Jayde Van Dissel of Elect Mining, who explained his company’s development and use of remote controlled winch technology on its new floating gold screen.

The second half of the Wednesday session of Minerals West Coast forum focussed on coal mines in the region.

Eamon Moynihan, manager of Francis Mining’s Echo Mine near Reefton, led the charge. He was followed by Rob Boyd of Bathurst Resources, who delivered his remote presentation on the emissions consequences of switching from coal to wood based fuels for industrial energy users.

Lincoln Smith of Terra Firma then presented on his company’s plans to reopen Spring Creek underground coal mine near Greymouth. The Wednesday session was concluded with a company update from Richard Tacon of Bathurst Resources, who spoke about the West Coast export operations at Stockton, and other operations throughout New Zealand.

The second day of the forum followed a late night for some attendants at Dawson’s Hotel and Restaurant in Reefton.

Coal mining at Echo, 2020.

The second day of the forum followed a late night for some attendants at Dawson’s Hotel and Restaurant in Reefton.

Tom Ritchie of Westland Mineral Sands opened the second day of the event, as the company looks to enter its production phase later in 2022. He was followed by Pat Cooper of Cooper’s Drilling Services, who talked through his recent experience opening and operating a quarry north of Westport. Fabian Hartley of Alton Drilling then spoke through the company’s operations drilling on the West Coast and in other areas of New Zealand.

Mark Bowater, author of Crimes Against Mine Planning, then gave his speech on his new book, and the pitfalls of mine planning, and how to do it well.

Bernie Napp of Prospect Consulting concluded the first half of the Thursday morning session with a presentation on the growing need for sustainability reporting as mining companies come under greater pressure to demonstrate expectations of social and environmental performance are being met.

Tom Ritchie speaking about Westland Mineral Sands’ West Coast developments.

The final session of the day started with Steph Hayton of OceanaGold explaining the company’s development of a passive water treatment as mine closure and restoration progresses at Globe-Progress mine near Reefton.

This presentation was followed by Paul Berry of the Paparoa Wildlife Trust, a community organisation that carries out predator control in the Paparoa Ranges, largely supported by Roa Mining.

Then Megan Wilson of OceanaGold and Rachel Fifield, who works in socio-economic development for the Buller District Council, presented on OceanaGold’s mine closure work and Rachel’s development work that has been funded by OceanaGold.

The final two presentations of the day focussed on policy and regulations. Dave Bellett of WorkSafe updated attendants on the implications for alluvial goldmines and quarries of being brought into the mining and quarrying regulations of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

A joint presentation from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals staff ended the day, with an explanation of new compliance regulations, penalties, and other enforcement tools, as well as an update on permit application processing.

Minerals West Coast would like to thank all presenters, volunteers who assisted their time to the event, sponsors, caterers, venue staff, and attendants for turning up on the day and making the event a success.

Overall, the forum was a successful event, and Minerals West Coast looks forward to holding its next forum in 2023.

New chairperson for Minerals West Coast

At the same time as Minerals West Coast’s forum was held in Reefton, the organisation’s annual general meeting also took place.

After five years at the helm, Glenys Perkins of Tailored Energy Solutions stood down as chairperson of Minerals West Coast. Glenys said after giving everything she could to the role in the time she has held it, it’s time to hand it over to somebody new.

Trustees and members present at the AGM elected Richard Tacon of Bathurst Resources as Minerals West Coast’s new chairperson. Richard brings decades of experience in the mining industry in New Zealand and Australia and looks forward to leading the trust. He said it will take a lot to replace Glenys but hopes he can make the necessary contribution to Minerals West Coast to allow the region’s mining industry to realise its full potential.

Minerals West Coast submits on stewardship land review

The Department of Conservation is in the process of reclassifying a significant portion of all public conservation land classified as stewardship land in the West Coast region.

Part of this process has involved a national review panel and mana whenua panel working alongside each other and making recommendations on separate blocks of stewardship land for reclassification as other categories of public conservation land – for example conservation parks, ecological areas, national parks, scenic reserves etc.

In total the panels are reviewing 504 separate parcels of land, with a total area of 644,015.7 hectares.

Minerals West Coast’s submission focussed on the process as a whole, not individual blocks of land. If miners wish to focus on specific parcels that effect their operations, submissions are not due until the 23rd of August.

Minerals West Coast’s full submission can be found below.

Minerals West Coast submits on National Policy Statement Indigenous Biodiversity

New Zealand’s government is pressing on with a national policy statement for indigenous biodiversity under the Resource Management Act. Among other things, this will involve the introduction of new rules effecting significant natural areas.

The recent draft will allow for mining in significant natural areas under certain conditions, but the full impact will not be known until the draft is finalised.

Minerals West Coast’s full submission can be found below.

National MP Stuart Smith visits West Coast mines

In June Minerals West Coast hosted a visit from National Party members of parliament Stuart Smith and Maureen Pugh. Stuart Smith is the National Party’s spokesperson for energy and resources. Stuart was joined by his advisor, Kishan Niran.

After some weather related disruptions effecting the first half of the trip, Stuart, Kishan, and Maureen met with Minerals West Coast to visit Federation Mining’s underground operation at Snowy River.

After staying overnight in Reefton, Stuart, Maureen, and Kishan visited OceanaGold’s Globe-Progress mine to see the site’s closure works, before driving through to Westport to visit Bathurst Resources’ office in town for an insight into the company’s Stockton operations.

The visit concluded with a site visit to Pat Cooper’s quarry at Jones Creek north of Westport before Stuart and Kishan flew out of Westport Airport.

Minerals West Coast thanks Stuart for his interest in the sector and the region and looks forward to hosting more visits from politicians of all parties in the near future.

Pat Cooper talks through his Jones Creek quarry operations with Maureen Pugh, Stuart Smith, and Kishan Niran.

Talking coal with One News and Newstalk ZB

Since November 2021 Minerals West Coast has been working online and across social media platforms to raise awareness of the ongoing role for coal in New Zealand to support New Zealand food production, steel and cement manufacturing, and electricity generation, among other sectors.

In July, One News picked up on this issue, and covered the conflict between addressing New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and the present cost of living crisis.

Minerals West Coast manager, Patrick Phelps, met Auckland base reporter, Logan Church, at Bathurst Resources’ Rotowaro Mine in the Waikato, which supplies North Island customers like Genesis Energy and New Zealand Steel. The story is available below. It may be better to watch the story directly on OneNews’s website by clicking here.

Following the One News coverage, Newstalk ZB took an interest in the issue. Patrick spoke to Simon Barnett and Tyler Adams on Newstalk ZB afternoons in depth, answering questions to listeners phoning into the station to ask questions about coal. The full interview can be listened to below.

Economics of mining with Bryan Crump on RNZ Nights

Every two and half months Minerals West Coast’s manager, Patrick Phelps, talks mining on RNZ Nights with Bryan Crump.

In the most recent slot, Patrick explained the opportunities mining’s high productivity and wages provide regions like the West Coast.

 The full interview can be heard below.

Bryan Crump and Patrick Phelps mid-interview on RNZ Nights.

Security seminar RockIT remote security solutions

Minerals West Coast was recently contacted by Allied Locks and RockIT, who will be holding seminars on the West Coast next week to talk through their smart lock technology that is used to protect remote work sites with security needs.

These sessions will be held in Greymouth on the 17th of August from 11:00am to 12:00pm, Hokitika from 2:30pm to 3:30pm.

An event will be held in Westport on Thursday the 18th of August from 9:00am to 10:00am.

To find out more about these events and to RSVP, please email John Moorhead at john@alliedlocks.co.nz