Mining and incomes

The Dom Post reports:

More on conservation land could add about $2.3 billion a year to national income, or more than $550 a person, a study by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research () says.

The increased mining would mean economic benefits lifting gross domestic product about 1.3 per cent or more, NZIER says, based on figures from a 2002 study.

It’s good to have some figures around the potential benefits, because this has been lacking from the debate. All we have had so far is the estimate of mineral wealth, but I want to know figures for impact on GDP, balance of trade, current account deficit, crown revenue and debt, employment etc.

Ideally, one could have that data for each of teh areas proposed to be removed from Section 4.

The debate was not about a choice between mining and conservation, but getting maximum sustainable value from a limited resource, NZIER said. New Zealand was relatively well provided with protected areas, with 19.5 per cent of the total land in “large protected areas”, first equal with the United States. It was well ahead of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 12.4 per cent.

Opponents of the plans to open up schedule 4 land to mining argued that any encroachment on conservation land would damage New Zealand’s international reputation, to the detriment of tourism and other exports.

“There is little evidence to support this claim, aside from a limited survey commissioned by the Environment Ministry almost a decade ago,” NZIER said.

It would be a good time to survey tourists and consumers about how mining affected their views of New Zealand’s “clean green image”.

Indeed. We already have 84 mines on conservation land incidentally.

Among English-speaking OECD countries New Zealand has the highest proportion of its land in “major protected areas”, the NZIER report shows.

There is also a high level of protected land for each person, at about 1.24 square kilometres.

But New Zealand also has the lowest per capita income, which is below the OECD average.

While comparisons were fraught with definitional differences, the comparison showed New Zealand to be “relatively well provided with protected areas, but relatively poorly endowed with the income to maintain them”, NZIER said.

A very good point.

Comments (32)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment

%d bloggers like this: