Miners’ Monthly: December 2023

Patrick Phelps returns to Minerals West Coast following election loss

Following a tilt as an independent candidate for the West Coast-Tasman seat, Patrick Phelps has returned to his former role as manager of Minerals West Coast.

In August this year Patrick stood down after four years with Minerals West Coast to contest the West Coast Tasman electorate as an independent candidate.

In doing so his platform was a more enabling policy framework for the Tasman and West Coast region’s primary sectors, including mining.

Of a total of 41,905 votes cast in the electorate, Patrick gathered a total of 5,903 (14.19%) and came in third behind National candidate, Maureen Pugh with 13,317 (32.01%) and Labour candidate Damien O’Connor at second with 12,300 (29.57%).

This was the highest share of the electorate vote for an independent in the 2023 election. Patrick has returned to his role as manager of Minerals West Coast and is looking forward to continuing his role advocating for the region’s minerals sector.

Patrick Phelps speaking to voters at a Reeton Candiates' Meeting. Photo sourced from Newsroom, Lois Williams

Policy environment under incoming National-ACT-New Zealand First

As the incoming government implements and develops its policy agenda, some clear policy direction and commitments that can be reassuring to people investing and working in the minerals sector are as follows:

  • A commitment to retaining a permissions pathway for access for miners to areas of public conservation land outside of National Parks and other areas classified as Schedule 4 under the Crown Minerals Act – i.e. clearly ruling out the previous government’s long-signalled but never implemented commitment to “No New Mines on Conservation Land”
  • The repeal of the Natural and Built Environments Act and Spatial Planning Act, and return to the Resource Management Act. It is understood the coalition government will look to improve and reform the RMA further into the coming parliamentary term.
  • Repealing or reworking the National Policy Statements for Indigenous Biodiversity and Freshwater passed under the previous government which, in current form make mining and other earthworks in significant natural areas and wetlands difficult if not impossible.

Social impact assessment under way to argue case for mining

As a new unitary regional plan (Te Tai Poutini Plan/West Coast One Regional Plan) is developed and other potential central government policy changes loom, Minerals West Coast is working to compile a substantial social impact assessment of the minerals sector for the West Coast region.

Minerals West Coast has engaged Mark Sargent of Aigis Group consultancy (based in Newcastle, New South Wales) to conduct a social impact assessment of the extractives sector on the West Coast.

In December Mark Sargent visited the West Coast and with Minerals West Coast visited some local mining operations and others working in the sector, surveying business owners, staff, and contractors in the sector as analysis is developed.

A survey for mine owners and operators, along with contractors and other interested parties is being developed, which Minerals West Coast will circulate this survey to its members early in the new year.

Mark Sargent visitng Reddale Coal Mine, with mine manager, Dan Moore, of Rosco Contractors Ltd.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Minerals West Coast

After another big year Minerals West Coast wishes to thank its members and the wider sector for the ongoing support that makes the business of industry advocacy possible.

Whether you find lumps of coal, golden nuggets, or whatever else in your Christmas stocking, Minerals West Coast wishes you and your family all the best for the holiday season.