Open cast mining at Pike River

March 15th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

State-owned Solid Energy, if successful with a bid, would probably look to develop the mine in a joint opencast/underground approach. It would need to get part of the surrounding land removed from schedule 4 protected conservation land for opencast . Access would be difficult and so would resource conditions.

If Solid Energy do buy , I hope the Government does make it possible for them to carry on mining there, in the safest way possible. If that means moving a couple of hectares out of Schedule 4, then so be it.

at the weekend seemed to have ESP with his call:

ACT leader Rodney Hide is calling for open-cast mining at Pike River and on protected conservation land.

State-owned Solid Energy should be allowed to open-cast mine Pike River, to access an estimated $10 billion of resources, he said. “It seems to me it will require a great deal of care and sensitivity. But I can’t see how not continuing their [the miner’s] work respects them.” …

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn backed Mr Hide’s call for open-cast mining at Pike River.

“Yeah, Rodney Hide is correct. We need to get on with it and we need to do it in a way that will safeguard the environment and at the same time get economic development.”

It looks like it might happen, which is good.

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51 Responses to “Open cast mining at Pike River”

  1. Doug (410 comments) says:

    Rodney is in touch with reality unlike Phil Goff and the Lefty Media.

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  2. big bruv (14,165 comments) says:

    Why stop with Pike River?, we have billions worth of minerals stuck in the ground because talentless idiots like Lucy Lawless and Robyn Malcom are against the idea.

    This is the time that Key needs to offer the people of NZ a choice when it comes to paying for the Chch rebuild, either higher taxes, or, mining on conservation land.

    I think the overwhelming response from the MAJORITY of people would be …..dig baby dig….

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  3. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Greenie polices kill.

    Doug you’re in touch with you’re own relaity, a lot of people agree with Rodney, we don’t want more miners dying because they had to work in guns breech because the trees are bloody pretty.

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  4. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    And for today’s announcement, Rodney proposes that building two or three nuclear power stations would not only ensure security of New Zealand’s electricity supply but provide a boost to the economy and jobs as well as being a tourist attraction.

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  5. grumpy (270 comments) says:

    Only if they are painted green, Toad.

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  6. trout (945 comments) says:

    Solid Energy is running a line at the moment of being the only people with the attributes (compassion, environmental sensitivity, technical capacity, etc. etc.) to reopen this ‘ mine of technical and environmental challenges’ in an endeavour to garner public support and force the receiver to sell them the mine cheap. It has the same flavour as the Crafar farm sale where Landcorp put in a low ball bid in the hope that public support and anti Asian sentiment would force the receiver to accept the offer. All the usual nonsense about overseas Companies is wheeled out and echoed by the socialists. I wonder how much the overseas owned Bluff smelter has earned for NZ over its long life.

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  7. DT (104 comments) says:

    Interesting story, and it may make it possible for the bodies to be recovered.

    I am a bit confused about this apparent about face by Don Elder, who earlier said that open cast mining at Pike River was uneconomic. Could there be political influence over this SOEs decision here? I wouldn’t be surprised, since the desire to return the bodies to families must be quite compelling.

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  8. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Why don’t you try NOT being a complete fucktard for one each year Toad.

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  9. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @ big bruv 10:15 am

    I think the overwhelming response from the MAJORITY of people would be …..dig baby dig….

    You can think it as much as you like bruv, but you know it isn’t true. There were several opinion polls commissioned last year on mining on conservation land (any mining – not specifically open cast) and all of them showed less support than there was opposition.

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  10. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    @Murray 10:29 am

    I only do it to wind you up Murray.

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  11. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Just ONE day toad, try it.

    If you think you have your finger on the pulse of the nation why are you polling a single figure flatline?

    You don’t wind me up, I think you’re a pathetic agenda driven asshole with no functioning brain cells mouthing a communist party line.

    If anyone should be wound up its your parents.

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  12. nasska (11,822 comments) says:

    National Parks were created for a good reason….without them NZ would lose it’s attraction for overseas tourists along with a large slice of it’s flora & fauna. The concept does not have to be set in stone & I can see little reason why “land swaps” can’t take place. It could go something along the lines of 100 acres required for mining + 1000 acres of a non disturbed buffer zone leased to a mining company (with a requirement to reinstate the land) in return for say 5000acres of land useful to DOC somewhere else in the country.

    Downstream effects would still be subject to the RMA & controlled as in any other industry. A few of these deals would see an actual increase in conservation land. Apart from a few diehard greenies I reckon most people would go along with it.

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  13. big bruv (14,165 comments) says:

    Toad

    “You can think it as much as you like bruv, but you know it isn’t true. There were several opinion polls commissioned last year on mining on conservation land (any mining – not specifically open cast) and all of them showed less support than there was opposition.”

    Commissioned by who and how were the questions framed?, I doubt the credibility of those opinion polls Toad.

    But, lets ask it again, lets tell the people of NZ what the options are, mining on conservation land or higher taxes.

    You and I both know that the answer will be one that the Greens will not like.

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  14. Nookin (3,471 comments) says:

    Where do you draw the line between lives, livelihood and landscape? The money is not there at the moment. There was a deficit before the earthquakes. The Greens’ immediately reaction was to increase taxation. This basically means that the total cost will come from a relatively finite sector. The Greens appear to make no concession elsewhere. The cost is huge so why not spread it? Can some of the less attractive S4 land be sacrificed to meet the cost? If not, why not? To counter the argument that the next step is nuclear power stations shows a degree of entrenchment that will get us nowhere.

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  15. big bruv (14,165 comments) says:

    Murray

    Don’t be so hard on Toad, he is actually a smart dude.

    Yes he is hen picked, yes he wakes every morning and is forced through some weird guilt complex to apologise for being born white and male but he is not stupid.

    The real problem with Toad (a problem he shares with all Greens) is that he just cannot bring himself to tell the truth, Toad knows that the Greens real agenda is totally unpalatable to the average Kiwi so he keeps pushing the lies and half truths without ever offering any concrete (or costed) alternatives.

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  16. somewhatthoughtful (467 comments) says:

    Weren’t the paper’s reporting that the $10 bil of resouces would cost $11bil to get?

    man you right wingers are hilarious, anything that gets the left’s ire up, no matter what principles of yours it contradicts, you’ll jump on. classic

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  17. Komata (1,204 comments) says:

    Toad:

    ‘And for today’s announcement, Rodney proposes that building two or three nuclear power stations would not only ensure security of New Zealand’s electricity supply but provide a boost to the economy and jobs as well as being a tourist attraction’

    Nuclear Power in NZ is unlikely to happen in its present form, but NOT because of ‘Green’ policies!

    The problem relates to location, and the need for economy and cost-effectiveness.

    Back in the mid-60’s (1964?) the then NZED commissioned a study on nuclear power and as part of this did a ‘location study’ to find the best site for a nuclear power station in NZ, bearing in mind that it had to be close to Auckland, as this was (correctly) seen to be the city with the largest future electricity needs.

    The study(which was exhaustive) eventually ‘zeroed-in’ on the Tasman-sea side of the Kaipara Harbour (roughly where the RNZAF live-firing range is located), as it appeared to offer the ideals for nuclear generation – isolated site, lots of water and, being located away from Auckland, no danger to that city if a ‘problem’ should arise, and nuclear-contaminated steam (or worse) needed to be released. It appeared to be evertything that was wanted.

    However, at this point, someone (after doing the appropriate wind-tests) noticed that although the prevailing winds would carry any ‘nuclear cloud’ away from Auckland, said cloud would not however avoid Whangarei, and that no matter how the ‘station was to be placed, this could not be avoided.

    At that point, the project was quietly filed and allowed to expire.

    It is only for that reaon that New Zealand doesn’t have nuclear power and the country is now visually and aurally-polluted by oversized wiindmills.

    Thought you might like to know . . .

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  18. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    1. I reckon this is pretty cynical by Solid Energy. If Pike River Coal had been able to get approval for open cast, they’d still be in business. Sure, it’s the nature of being in business to swoop on the opportunity, but to use the tragedy to get approval for something that couldn’t be approved in the past feels a bit wrong.

    2. I fully agree with the concept of land swaps. Only point I’d make is that National Parks have far more land in them than DOC can manage as it stands, so swapping 100 acres for 5000 acres somewhere else makes no sense – DOC need to focus on the real high value land, and we need to find different management approaches for the remaining lower value (but still worth preserving) areas. Maybe we could transfer ownership of blocks of land to DOC, but subcontract them to tourism ventures, or logging ventures, or whomever, with strict controls/requirements for them to control pests, run endangered wildlife programs etc. Cash for environmentalism…..

    3. Nuclear. You’re just wrong on that one toad. Did you happen to see the oil refinery burning in Japan, putting all that pollution into the atmosphere? And all those ships (including coal ships) washed up on the shore? Sure, there’s been some leakage from the 40 year old nuclear plants that were on a shoreline hit by a tsunami. More or fewer deaths than from oil and coal? More or less environmental impact? It’s easy to say no to everything, but I’m pretty sure that NZers actually want to be able to turn on the lights once in a while – so no energy at all isn’t a viable answer. And most renewable projects are just a boondoggle to fund the flash cars of the new green mafia using taxpayer money, they have no realistic long-term commercial prospects. So far as I can tell, they’re calling this the third worst nuclear disaster ever. Third worst loss of life (zero lives lost), third worst environmental damage (low to no environmental impact), all from a 40 year old design that is far more dangerous than anything anybody would build today, and after an 8.9 earthquake and massive tsunami. Sign me up!!

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  19. Lance (2,719 comments) says:

    @Komata
    “It is only for that reaon that New Zealand doesn’t have nuclear power and the country is now visually and aurally-polluted by oversized wiindmills.”

    Not everyone agrees with our concept of visual pollution.. as for audible pollution, the sound drops off pretty quickly with distance so unless you a living right next to one that is a non argument.

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  20. davidp (3,588 comments) says:

    Komata>It is only for that reaon that New Zealand doesn’t have nuclear power and the country is now visually and aurally-polluted by oversized wiindmills.

    You forgot to mention the extreme danger from windmills. Over the last 10 years there have been 7 deaths caused by nuclear power, including the accident in Japan. Over the same period windmills have killed 44 people. Given that windmills generate only a tiny fraction of the power than nuclear reactors do, windmills are 200 times as dangerous as nuclear for the same power output. Blade failure is an especially serious problem… in Germany broken blades have flown as far as 1.3km and wind farms really should have a safety buffer of 1.5-2.0km around them. In NZ that would mean closing most of the scenic coastal route around Makara.

    http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf

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  21. Komata (1,204 comments) says:

    lance:

    Re: ‘ the sound drops off pretty quickly with distance so unless you a living right next to one’

    Agreed – but if you are in the right direction and down wind of these reputedly ‘silent’ objects, the ‘distance’ can become somewhat more than the ‘immediate vicinity’ and noise is carried several kilometres – as those living in the vicinity of the various ‘farms’ in new Zealand are discovering to their (aural) cost

    davidP:

    Thanks for the heads-up about the ‘windmill danger’, but as it is not a ‘fossil fuel’, the international Greens’ and their (non-thinking) accolytes take absolutely no responsibility for the consequences of their ‘pets’ actions, blaming ‘technology’ for the problem.

    All care (for gia) and no responsibility seems to be their (very convenient) mantra

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  22. berend (1,716 comments) says:

    Toad, can you tell me what the effect on the environment would be if a large solar panel array, producing the same amount of MWs as a nuclear reactor, had been hit by a tsunami?

    Ah, you’re saying we should use electricity?

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  23. Lance (2,719 comments) says:

    So NOT having Nuclear power is negligent.
    Wow
    You should be a politician (maybe you are?)

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  24. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    The Japanese plants have released radioactive vapour. This vapour has a small health risk to people in the immediate vicinity (1-2 km) depending on winds. Windmills produce sound, visual pollution and some small physical health risk. Again, depending on winds and exact location, it mostly affects people in the local area. Nuclear plants have a smaller carbon footprint and produce enormously more power.

    I’m not saying ditch all windmills and go nuclear. I’m just saying that some people seem to rule nuclear power out for reasons that also apply to other power sources – and hold nuclear to a standard that we don’t hold those other sources too.

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  25. Lance (2,719 comments) says:

    Small health risk?
    http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/french-nuclear-agency-rates-japan-accident-5-or-6

    I aint over yet

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  26. Lance (2,719 comments) says:

    Seriously dude
    I can’t believe you wrote that;
    “and hold nuclear to a standard that we don’t hold those other sources too.”

    Shit thats like saying flying is safer than road transport (statistically) therefore aircraft only need a car level warrant of fitness and an oil change every few years.

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  27. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    There were several opinion polls commissioned last year on mining on conservation land (any mining – not specifically open cast) and all of them showed less support than there was opposition.

    90% of Kiwis through referendum didn’t want change to the smacking laws and were ignored.

    That’s the precedent for ignoring some stupid Stuff or NZ Herald.co.nz poll on whether we should investigate what we can sell to the world to pay the bills.

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  28. kowtow (8,784 comments) says:

    Listened to Rod Oram on RNZ this am on thissubject. Very interesting. Almost a hint that DOC made the mining dangerous cos of their conditions. Royal Commission should be interesting. Oram couldn’t resist a go at the proposed lignite operation down south. Why? For goodness sake we need the money,the jobs ,the industry,the exports etc etc

    Dig baby dig.

    And talking of RNZ they of course had some useless UN global warming scare mongering alarmist on this morning , but then they would wouldn’t they?

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  29. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    How many businesses has Rod Oram owned?

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  30. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    No Lance. It’s saying that everyone is getting very excited about a small radiation leakage in Japan that will, in all likelihood, have no impact on anyone. Just because it’s radiation and all vodoo science or something. At a time where tens of thousands of people are probably dead.

    But go read some of the places where people are reporting serious mental health issues from living near windmills, and see the greenies giving them a free pass.

    Double standard.

    I’m saying that we need to agree a reasonable safety level that we expect for nuclear facilities, based on science and not based on FUD. And then we need to let them get on with it, the same way we let airlines get on with managing aircraft safety.

    Frankly, I was listening to Australian news this morning, and the feeding frenzy around the nuclear incident in Japan was amazing, they’re not talking at all about the dead people, they’re blithering on about nuclear and how the cause of nuclear power has been set back decades. It’s obscene, and reflects the particular agenda of those interviewers rather than any objective reality.

    In turn, I have a staff member in Japan that I had to evacuate last night, because the media has her convinced that she was about to be exposed to radiation poisoning in Tokyo. I don’t mind paying the cost if it makes her feel safer, but it seems ridiculous to me that, in a time when the power’s on and off, she’s walking too and from work due to no trains running, and there are potential shortages of power and aftershocks, her biggest concern was a minor leakage of radiation from a power plant 200km away. All driven by the media, and ignorance of the actual physics involved and the real risks.

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  31. dime (10,134 comments) says:

    its a matter of time before we start mining the hell out of our land like aussie does.

    unfortunately people struggle with the whole “borrowing 300 million a week thing”.

    how about we change it to – “we are borrowing 300 mil a week. to make it fair, you are billing you $75 a week each per week. your bill is lodged with the IRD and it is building nicely. in one year you will personally owe the IRD $3,900″

    Maybe then the arrogance of kiwis will start to change.

    Hell, make it if the bill isnt paid after 2 years the IRD will start repossessing plasma tvs etc :)

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  32. dime (10,134 comments) says:

    forgot to add – dimes $75 levy is only for anti-mining people :)

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  33. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    PaulL has a point.

    The dramatics of a nuclear fallout have, over history, vastly outweighed the real outcomes. I’m referring to both Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

    More people die, and are injured, on NZ roads in one year that have been affected by these events.

    It makes a good lead item on One News though.

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  34. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    I made a comment at about 1pm and it disappeared!

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  35. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    It was nuked!

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  36. SPC (5,787 comments) says:

    The cookie monster ate Shunda’s post thinking it was a carbon credit

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  37. SPC (5,787 comments) says:

    Nuclear power is only possible if Australia goes that way – ends use of brown coal for energy. And even then it would not be economically viable for us until that industry either provides lower cost safer small plants, or we have a large increase in energy need (such as from electric powered cars and the like) and we can then absorb the adaption/installation cost by volume (but the borrowing cost would be large) – so we would more likely choose other options such as tidal turbine power and wind turbines at sea and compulsory solar heated water etc.

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  38. SPC (5,787 comments) says:

    Large scale open cast mining in the national park conservation estate is the sort of desperate economic option chosen by women when they go on the game because of poverty.

    But it is also the option favoured by those who want money for tax cuts or spending programmes (where a women would want to afford university/a house/an overseas trip/investment property as a career choice).

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  39. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    SPC: nowadays it is the norm to have the provider you buy the kit from also support it. Someone like GE or Hitachi could give a 20 year fully worked cost, guaranteed. So no issues with support and industry capability. It’s much easier to fly out a maintenance technician these days than it was 40 years ago.

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  40. SPC (5,787 comments) says:

    There are wider issues of regulatory regimes, national emergency planning related to the wider economy, waste removal and transportation in our area of the world etc – and when we do not need large scale nuclear energy and are on an earthquake zone … it’s a case of waiting for smaller scale next generation technology that has lower waste issues.

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  41. KiwiGreg (3,260 comments) says:

    “Listened to Rod Oram on RNZ”

    That was your first mistake.

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  42. Lance (2,719 comments) says:

    @PaulL
    So partial meltdowns and now another reactor now on fire are minor happens and nothing but mass hysteria?

    I don’t know what to say. I just hope you are never in charge of a major safety system, driving by looking in the rear vision mirror is friggin dangerous.

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  43. Lance (2,719 comments) says:

    Oh and
    ” And then we need to let them get on with it, the same way we let airlines get on with managing aircraft safety.”

    NO

    That has lead to numerous aircraft crashes. There is heavy handed sate intervention world wide for aircraft safety and maintenance, even (and especially) in the good old free market USA.

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  44. Thrash Cardiom (298 comments) says:

    The dramatics of a nuclear fallout have, over history, vastly outweighed the real outcomes. I’m referring to both Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

    More people die, and are injured, on NZ roads in one year that have been affected by these events.

    Well, few deaths, yes, but numbers of people affected? Generally you don’t have 200,000 people being permanently relocated after a traffic accident.

    1800 documented thyroid cancer cases in people who were aged between 0 and 4 at the time of Chernobyl – a far higher rate than usual.

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  45. gravedodger (1,573 comments) says:

    Comparing Three Mile Island to Chernobl is as logical as comparing war casualties from Agincourt to the Somme. How many deaths and or medical casualties did T M I actually spawn, . whereas Chernobl was a disaster waiting to happen and happen it did.

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  46. OTGO (565 comments) says:

    If we can’t mine the coal or drill for oil then nuclear energy is inevitable. Not in our lifetime, maybe not in our childrens lifetime but when everyone needs their electric cars charged up in the future you will be thanking that nuclear plant out on the point near your home.

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  47. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Komata

    We wouldn’t have really missed Whangarei especially back in 1964, a shame the govt of the day didn’t have some nuts and say she’ll be right _ bugger, imagine cheap nuclear power,- no wind mills, no dams, no coal fires.

    Anyway excellent comment explaining why we don’t have it

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  48. Viking2 (11,575 comments) says:

    # toad (2,664) Says:
    March 15th, 2011 at 10:23 am

    And for today’s announcement, Rodney proposes that building two or three nuclear power stations would not only ensure security of New Zealand’s electricity supply but provide a boost to the economy and jobs as well as being a tourist attraction.

    Completely off topic Toad and demerits are warranted for your attempt at thread jacking which it seems have worked. The post was about Pike River and Solid Energy.
    Must try harder if you can to focus and collect your thoughts on a set subject. Fail.

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  49. Komata (1,204 comments) says:

    PEB

    Re Dams (Hydroelectric power):

    New Zealand would still have had hydro dams. If you are a ‘Boomer, you would remember that it was the time when the government (National?) was building them with great enthusiasm in the South Island, the intention being to make this country as energy self-sufficient as possible and try to make the best of the available resources.

    It had been found that NZ had a large number of rivers which could be dammed (in this it was following the Swiss model to a large extent) and it only seemed reasonable that these should be used (dammed) for the good of both present and future generations – cheap electricity was deemed essential for industrial growth, and to improve the lot of the average citizen (it was the State Housing time as well). Wartime experience had taught those in government (both Labour and National) that the country needed to be better equipped in the energy field (the need for wartime rapid industrialisation and self-sufficiency had found NZ to be been seriously caught short during the conflict), and the determination was that it was not going to happen again if the means could be found to avoid it.

    As we can see successive (largely Labour?) governments forgot the original point of the exercise, (energy self-sufficiency)and this, combined with the rise of the conservationist bloc (and its associated policies of ‘political expediency’) saw the end of the ‘dam-building’ era – Clyde being the final construction of ‘national importance’.

    It’s interesting how things change.

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  50. AJ (2 comments) says:

    Agree with Paul that DoC struggles to manage the Conservation estate. That’s because Government asks it to do so on a relative shoestring. (and again recently cut its budget)

    Open cast mining at Pike River ? It obviously didn’t make sense originally, and not withstanding the Pike River tragedy it makes no more sense now. Pike River Mine started outside Schedule 4 land and tunnelled underneath it. Open cast mining right inside the National Park would obviously undermine the credibility of any form of land protection (Trust any Government to keep it’s word, or even to respect the law ? National Park status to be discarded at a whim ?). Remember John Key talking about ‘surgical mining’ when introducing the concept of mining Schedule 4 land last year. Open cast would be about as surgical as replacing keyhole surgery on your knee with replacing the joint or amputating the limb entirely. 100% Pure is clearly a concept that many would sacrifice without thought. We know it’s a bit shonky anyway but why nail the lid on the coffin ? Even if economics were your only interest tourism is still worth about 10% of our economy.

    Taxes ? The amount Government takes in royalties from any form of mineral extraction – petroleum aside – is miniscule. Therefore the only taxes we are talking about are the same as for any other business – taxes on profits (if any) and on employee incomes. Would an open cast mine at Pike River make a lot of money ???? (The underground version was taking a long time to generate revenue of any kind – even before the tragedy) Would it make more money than any other investment of capital and labour?

    If we are serious about paying for Christchurch surely the first place to look is the poor quality spending Government indulges in at present because it’s been deemed too hard (till now) politically. What about free student loans ? Paying superannuation at 65 – when the rest of the world has woken up to an aging and largely still active population. Some of it’s RONS projects have ridiculously low benefit cost ratios – the sort we’d never waste our money on. I’m sure other people can find a few more places to save a billion or two.

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  51. nrh (1 comment) says:

    isn’t opencast mining in pike creek uneconomic?

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