Miner’s Monthly: November 2021

Annual General Meeting held in Reefton

Minerals West Coast’s annual general meeting held in Reefton at the end of October gave members a chance to review the annual report and financial statements, elect representatives to the board, and get an update on recent and upcoming activities of Minerals West Coast. The meeting itself was followed by two presentations: the first from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, the second from MinEx.

The election of trustees and appointments/reappointments to the board means Minerals West Coast’s board now consists of the following elected representatives:

  • Glenys Perkins, Tailored Energy Solutions (chairwoman of Minerals West Coast, reelected)
  • Sue Attwood, Placer Global (trustee, reelected)
  • Pat Cooper, Coopers Drilling Services (trustee, reelected)
  • Brett Cummings, Amalgamated Mining (trustee, reelected)
  • Peter Haddock, Mill Creek Mining (trustee, reelected)
  • Geoff Jacobs, Paramount Mining (trustee, elected)
  • Peter O’Sullivan, Tai Poutini Polytechnic (trustee, reelected)
  • Lincoln Smith, Terra Firma (trustee, elected)
  • Dave Stone, Rosco Contractors Limited (trustee, reelected)
  • Richard Tacon, Bathurst Resources (trustee, elected)

The financial statements and annual report, along with the minutes of the AGM, will be circulated directly to Minerals West Coast’s members.

Minerals West Coast wishes to once again thank CablePrice for its sponsorship of the evening’s dinner and drinks.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals update

Following the end of the formal annual general meeting, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals joined the meeting via a Zoom link to discuss efforts the agency (which operates within the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment). The staff who joined via video link included:

  • Sarah Kenward (manager of mineral operations)
  • Tim Journeaux (principal minerals advisor)
  • Jeanette Walker (senior minerals advisor)
  • Susan Baas (national manager of minerals and petroleum)

The presentation began with an explanation of the makeup of the permissions team, which includes about eight or nine minerals advisors who process applications, before going into permit applications and processing.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals explained (as is shown in the below chart) that there was a significant increase in applications for new permits about May-June 2020 due largely to heightened gold prices through the Covid-19 pandemic unfolding, and increased interest in gold mining as a result.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals staff explained that of its team of seven minerals advisors (which has recently grown to nine with the recruitment of two new staff) one advisor will be responsible for processing about 8-10 applications at once, and the remainder of applications will stay unassigned until there is an advisor free to process them. About the time of the meeting there were 200 unassigned permits in the queue, the majority of which were tier 2 exploration permits.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals staff said of the 200 unassigned applications, all have received an initial assessment and been deemed “complete” before being added to the queue. During this initial stage of assessment, some permits are given priority as “urgent”, or added to the queue as unassigned applications until there is an advisor free to process them.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals staff said (as can be seen above) while processing performance has improved in recent months, with increased output on a quarterly basis, it hasn’t been enough to clear the entire backlog in the queue due to the number of applications coming in.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals staff credited the increased productivity to some measures it has taken within the agency, the recruitment of new staff, and better guidance to (and communications with) permit applicants and permit holders.

One piece of communication New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals recently issued was a list of common mistakes for permit applicants, which is included below:

Other initiatives New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals will be trialing in the near future include an accelerated approach to straightforward applications – namely complete, with all the information, and likely to be granted, to get such applications through the system as quickly as possible.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals said the combination of different measures taken have together increased performance, and the agency will continue to identify and implement measures to increase efficiency, but that there are no silver bullets.

MinEx on impact on alluvial mines and quarries coming into mining regulations

Following the presentation from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, MinEx chief executive, Wayne Scott, addressed those attending to explain what changes there will be for alluvial mines and quarries as a result of such operations now being included in the Health and Safety at Work Act’s mining and quarrying regulations – until now they have been exempt.

These changes will likely be implemented in February 2022, with a two year transition period. A summary is shown below, along with the new definition of a principal hazard, and the impacts on quarries and alluvial gold operations.

Wayne Scott explained one of the most significant changes will be that all siteswill be required to have a health and safety management system.

WorkSafe will be running information workshops around the country in 2022, and MinEx will develop templates, examples, and guidance for sites as they move to operating under the new requirements.

Wayne Scott invited all those who are not yet in the MinEx database or on the mailing system to join via MinEx’s website – www.minex.org.nz

Submission lodged on review of freshwater policies

Earthworks in wetlands – such as mining – were classified as prohibited activities under the Resource Management Act as a result of the government’s freshwater reforms.

While this has not yet changed, the government is in the process of reviewing those reforms to consider creating a consenting pathway for earthworks in wetlands – including for resource extraction, but also extending to urban development and infrastructure – provided there is no net loss for wetlands overall.

Last month, the government received submissions after a round of policy consultation on the issue.

Minerals West Coast launches Coal in New Zealand campaign

In an effort to raise awareness about the role of coal in New Zealand now and in years to come, Minerals West Coast has this month launched a series of online videos and a dedicated website “Coal in New Zealand” in a bid to increase the wider New Zealand public’s understanding of coal use in New Zealand, and why it is not easily replaced. These videos can be seen below, and on the www.coal.kiwi website.

Patrick Phelps and Bryan Crump talk tourism and mining for last radio slot of the year

For his fourth and final ten-weekly slot on RNZ Nights with Bryan Crump,  Minerals West Coast’s manager, Patrick Phelps, had a look at whether the idea the West Coast should look to tourism instead of mining as way of making a living actually stands up to much scrutiny.

The full interview can be found below: