MINERS' MONTHLY: MARCH 2021
Climate Change Commission submission lodged
Minerals West Coast's submission to the Climate Change Commission addressed the previous advice industry has given to the government on barriers to removing fossil fuels from New Zealand's energy profile, and the importance of cheap, reliable energy for New Zealand's provincial communities.
Much of the commission's analysis ignores previous rounds of policy consultation the government has held on removing fossil fuels from New Zealand's energy mix, especially process heat. Minerals West Coast raised this issue, and the cost to communities like the West Coast, in the submission sent to the Climate Change Commission. The full submission is available below.
The commission will now assess all the submissions it has received, and shared its finalised advice with the government on the 31st of May, 2021.
Mines Rescue CPD course on remote worksite safety
Being ready to respond to life or death emergencies was the central point of this month's CPD training event at Mines Rescue in Rapahoe. Glenville Stiles of Mines Rescue ran the three hour training session on emergency management planning. The session covered basics such as how to communicate with emergency services in areas with limited mobile coverage, or none at all; what plans to have in place for workers who operate on their own; access to injured staff in uneven terrain; having staff adequately trained in first-aid and having appropriate equipment on site. As well as having processes in place to be ready to respond in the event of injuries or other emergencies, Glenville emphasised the need to work through these plans in drills and practice sessions to ensure these plans are more than just documents.
Upcoming CPD events for 2021
Minerals West Coast will continue to organise training events for 2021 and notify members of events being organised by other industry groups. Events coming up in the coming months are in the table below.
Interview with on Nights RNZ National
About every ten weeks Minerals West Coast's manager, Patrick Phelps, speaks with the host of RNZ National's evening show, Nights, Bryan Crump. The most recent interview, on Tuesday the 23rd of March, focused mainly on the Climate Change Commission's advice to the New Zealand government. The full interview is available below.
CLIMATE CHANGE COMMISSION CONSULTATION UNDERWAY
The Climate Change Commission released its draft report on emissions budgets for the coming fifteen years through to 2035, and how New Zealand can meet its emissions reductions targets under the Paris Agreement.
The report had initially been set for six weeks of consultation, with a deadline for submissions of Sunday the 14th of March. Fifteen industry groups cosigned a letter requesting an extension to the consultation deadline. The extension was granted, and the submission deadline extended to Sunday the 28th of March. This extra two weeks will allow Minerals West Coast and others to submit a better researched and detailed submission than would have otherwise been possible.
Minerals West Coast is in the process of drafting its submission and will be consulting with members in the coming weeks. Once this draft is written, it will be circulated to membership for wider review.
MEDIA COVERAGE FOLLOWING REPORT'S PUBLICATION
At the time the draft report was released, there was significant media coverage of the many aspects of the report. Minerals West Coast outlined the issues with the commission’s report within local and national media in the days following its publication in mid-March. Minerals West Coast manager, Patrick Phelps, spoke on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report programme to discuss the reality of what the commission is proposing. You can listen to this interview below.
An article also appeared on stuff.co.nz's website outlining the potential impact of the Climate Change Commission's draft recommendations for the West Coast economy. You can read this article by clicking the picture below.
CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT EVENTS 2021
Minerals West Coast is working to ensure there are ample opportunities for the coming year for mine and quarry managers to attend training events and workshops over the coming year. If you haven’t registered yet for the first event for the year, a March workshop on remote workplace emergency management, please do so. Click the button below for details.
Other events on the horizon are outlined below, with those being organised or run by Minerals West Coast coloured gold. As dates and events are confirmed, Minerals West Coast will work to distribute notices and invitations. Please contact Patrick Phelps if you have any questions on either 021 238 6846 or by email at email@example.com
Other events are being planned for the year and will be made known to members as early as possible to allow operators to make plans in advance.
Minerals West Coast will be holding its annual forum again this year, most likely in September of October.
NEW ZEALAND PETROLEUM AND MINERALS TRAINING NIGHT IN GREYMOUTH
With annual summary reports to be filled out online from this year onwards, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals staff visited Greymouth in mid-February to guide local miners through the process. NZPAM has produced a video guide showing the steps through the online ASR process. This video, now publicly available, can be found on YouTube, by clicking here, or watched below.
REMOTE WORKPLACES TRAINING WORKSHOP
Minerals West Coast invites West Coast mine and quarry managers to attend the first of our training events for the year.
If you are a mine or quarry manager, ensuring having your work site ready to respond in the event of an emergency could be life saving. Minerals West Coast invites you to attend this three-hour workshop being held by Mines Rescue to ensure you and your staff are ready.
Many West Coast mines and quarries operate in remote locations a long way from emergency services and with limited mobile phone coverage.
The Mines Rescue run workshop will cover the following areas:
• The Importance of emergency planning relative to the scale of the operation
• Overcoming location, distance, and time barriers to medical assistance
• End-user targeted solutions and simple application
• Type of resources to effectively support emergency management
• ‘Lone-Worker’ solutions
The workshop will be held at the Mines Rescue Station at Rapahoe, north or Greymouth, on Tuesday the 9th of March from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.
For more information, or to book tickets, for you or one of your managers, click the link below.
If you have any questions about this event, or your CPD hours and obligations as a holder of a certificate of competence for mine and quarry managers, please contact Patrick Phelps on 021 238 6846, or firstname.lastname@example.org
only time will tell the implications of election result
Whether there will be any relief for the minerals sector due to the Labour-NZ First- Green Party coalition becoming a Labour Party dominated Parliament remains to be seen. Green co-leader, James Shaw, has retained his position as minister for climate change, Megan Woods and David Parker have both continued as ministers for energy & resources and environment respectively. The most notable change is that of minister of conservation from Green Party MP, Eugenie Sage to Labour's East Coast MP, Kiri Allan, who so far remains an unknown quantity. There have been mixed messages on whether the previous coalition's pledge of 'no new mines' on conservation land will be carried through as a priority this term. Minerals West Coast will continue to engage with government staff and elected representatives to argue for ongoing mining industry access to public conservation land in a socially and environmentally responsible manner on a case by case basis.
Other policy changes still on the horizon
Along with the ever elusive commitment on no new mines on conservation land, the previous government had other policy proposals that were of concern to the mining industry. These included a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB), changes to the Crown Minerals Act, and proposed bans on some coal boilers along with a levy on coal use.
National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity
Some of the proposals of the NPSIB could be incredibly costly for regions like the West Coast that still have large areas of native vegetation and small rating bases. Of greatest concern is the requirement for local authorities like the West Coast Regional Council to identify and map significant natural areas (SNAs).
A joint submission from the Buller, Grey, and Westland District Councils, and the West Coast Regional Council, outlined the issues with the draft statement.
The councils’ submission drew attention to the area of the West Coast already protected by being under Department of Conservation management, and the cost of implementing some policy proposals.
For example, the West Coast Regional Council estimated the upfront cost of of implementing the policy were as high as $4,172,000, and an ongoing cost of potentially $3,949,000 over the next 30 years – this doesn’t include direct costs to landowners and iwi, or other affected parties.
To put this in context, the annual general rating income for the West Coast Regional Council is about $2,400,000.00.
The joint council submission can be found in full here.
Boiler bans and coal levies
Just before the election, the government published the submissions on its discussion document Accelerating renewable energy and energy efficiency in which proposals had been floated on banning some existing coal boilers by 2030 (where the end use temperature is below 100°C) or banning new coal boiler installations after 2030 where the end use requirement is below 300°C, along with a levy charged on coal users per tonne of coal consumed. Coal production is already levied on a per tonne basis when it is sourced from the mine, and use is already charged through the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme.
The Labour Party included the ban on new boilers in its election manifesto, but didn't mention a ban on existing boilers, or a coal levy. What the government's actions will be remains unclear.
Food producers such as Westland Milk Products, the Meat Industry Association, and Horticulture New Zealand all expressed their concern at the impacts the coal targeted polices could have on the viability of their industries in the South Island.
In its submission, the Meat Industry Association said in its submission that a “total coal ban would incur very significant costs to the industry”, and it estimated “cost of tens of millions (of dollars) in conversion of existing coal boilers to biomass, and additional annual operating costs. Many of the South Island sites (but also some in the far north) are in areas where wood chip supplies are likely to be in short supply, making biomass unfeasible”.
Westland Milk Products stated in its submission that the eventual conversion from coal to some form of renewables is ‘inevitable’, but stressed for the foreseeable future there are no alternatives. In its submission, Westland Milk Products said it would be “unable to access the same level of reliable energy from electricity generation due to capacity constraints on the West Coast”. It said this would not change even if the proposed Arnold or Waitaha Hydro schemes were to proceed.
The most viable alternative to coal would be wood pellets, but the investment required would possibly cost $100,000,000 over the life of the plant. It said this “could be the difference between being viable and unviable” due to the uncertainty of supply and transport logistics.
In a joint Horticulture New Zealand, Tomatoes NZ, and Vegetables NZ submission, hothouse growers said plainly “there are no viable alternatives to coal boilers”, and that growers cannot afford the cost of transitioning”.
Radio New Zealand covered these issues on its Morning Report programme earlier this month. The story is available below.
Minerals West Coast Forum 2020 well attended
The Minerals West Coast 2020 forum was this year held in Reefton in September. In all about 100 delegates attended, with the event limited to that number due to the alert level two restrictions in place at the time. The focus for the 2020 forum was on the products and the outcomes of mining. Steel manufacture, food production, gold mine security, jewellery, kiwi monitoring, and water quality control were among the topics speakers covered. As well as a good line up of presentations, the event was a good chance for people in the industry to connect and catch up throughout the day and in the evening at the post-forum dinner and drinks. It was good to have attendance from West Coast local body politicians and local MPs from both the Labour Party and National Party in attendance. Machinery exhibitions from sponsors such as Aratuna Freighters, CablePrice NZ, Oceana Gold, West-Trak, and Rosco Contractors Ltd. also added to the atmosphere on the day. The day also included the launch of Minerals West Coast's industry factbook, Prospects for the future, which is available in its digital form on Minerals West Coast's website - click here to find the online copy.
School of mines tour and visit to stamping battery
The next morning a small group of people, if not a little worse for wear from the night before, were hosted by Reefton geologist, John Taylor, for a tour of the Reefton School of mines followed by a trip to the working model stamping battery at Crushington. Reefton resident, Bill Watts, hosted the group and showed the stamping battery in action.
Golden globe theatre opened in reefton
Later the same day, Bill Watts, whose grandfather had worked in the historic Globe underground hard-rock gold mine, cut the ribbon on the Oceana Gold funded 'Golden Globe Theatre' in the Reefton i-Site.
In the theatre, people can see the story of gold mining in Reefton generally and the Globe and Progress mines specifically. The video is available below.
Pandemic impact on coal export sector highlighted on one news
In October One News visited Stockton mine to look at how the coal export sector has been impacted by the international drop in coal prices resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. The story can be viewed on One News's website - click here to watch the full video.
Bathurst Resources Community sessions
Final Mining Session for the year on RNZ Nights
In the past calendar year, Minerals West Coast manager, Patrick Phelps, has appeared on RNZ National's evening show, Nights with Bryan Crump, about once every ten weeks to discuss different topics relating to the mining industry on the West Coast. The final interview slot for the year was in the second week of November, and covered the future of mining on the West Coast. The interview is available below. An earlier interview about mining on conservation land, from September, is also available.
MINERS' MONTHLY: JULY 2020
minerals west coast forum tickets now available
Minerals West Coast's 2020 forum dates are set and tickets available. The theme for this years' forum is Product and will focus on the end uses of West Coast minerals. It will be held in Reefton on the 3rd of September. For full information about the forum, and to purchase tickets, click the button below. As with all industry events, time at the forum can be counted towards required CPD points for COC holders.
FOCUS FALLS ON RISING COST OF CARBON AND IMPACT ON BUSINESSES
The impact of the rising cost of carbon under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme has been taking a toll on coal reliant businesses, particularly the South Island horticultural sector. Minerals West Coast has been working hard to bring this issue to public attention and it is encouraging to have this issue picked up by national news agencies like Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand.
investor demand drive increases in gold prices
With ongoing economic uncertainty worldwide, gold prices continue to hold high in New Zealand and around the world. In recent days the price of gold per ounce reached record levels of US$1,946.72 (Tuesday 28th July) and holding steady since then, at NZ$2,946.29/oz today (Friday 31st July). The economic impact of Covid19 combined with tensions between the United States and China are understood to be behind the high prices.
minex workshop mid august
MinEx will be holding a health and safety training workshop in Greymouth on Tuesday the 11th of August. The workshop will focus on operating and safety systems and leadership and legislation. For more information, and to register online, visit the link here.
FEDERATION MINING EDGES CLOSER TO STARTING WAIUTA HARDROCK PROJECT
Federation Mining (formerly Tasman Mining ) is getting nearer starting dates for the Blackwater project to reopen the the Birthday Reef ore body. When it was last operational, the ore body had produced 730,000 oz of gold from the historic gold mine that once stood at Waiuta. The Snowy River Mine will drive twin 3.3km tunnels from the Snowy Valley, with plans to meet the ore body where the old timers left it back in 1951. Located approximately 25 km from Reefton, the site will have a small surface infrastructure footprint and will employ a local workforce with support from specialist contractors, with production targets of 60,000 oz/year once operational. Works are expected to start by September this year.
national minerals forum back online and in person
The New Zealand Minerals Forum, organised by Freeman Media, Straterra, and AusIMM, is back online and in person, to be held in Hamilton on the 13th and 14th of October. The New Zealand Minerals Forum in partnership with AusIMM is a two-day conference and exhibition covering mining in New Zealand. It is designed to showcase the New Zealand mining sector to stakeholders and prospective investors, and to educate and inform the New Zealand mining community. It attracts high-level attendance from mining companies, government regulators and agencies, the investment community and service companies. After disruptions due to lock down earlier this year, the event is back. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the forum website by clicking here.
Miners' mONTHLY jUNE 2020
Nps Indigenous Diversity delayed until 2021
The threat of Significant Natural Areas and other implications of the proposed national policy statement for indigenous biodiversity has been delayed until April 2021 at the earliest – after this year’s general election on the 19th of September. The policy would have been wide reaching in its ability to prevent land use on both public and private lands. The Ministry for the Environment said in an email yesterday that delivery of the national policy statement has been delayed due to the impacts of Covid19.
Coal users face higher energy costs as ETS unit price continues to rise
The price for units under the emissions trading scheme has been holding over $30.00 NZ a unit since the government in June lifted the fixed price option for units under the ETS up to $35.00, effectively lifting the price ceiling by ten dollars. The market has responded, and since the change the price of units has gone up to over $30.00 a unit, significantly increasing coal users’ operating costs, to the point where some operators are beginning to question the viability of their businesses. The impacts on New Zealand businesses, food producers and processors, and schools and hospitals will grow more severe as the price continues to rise.
Submission on air quality and mercury use due at end of July
It remains unclear what the impact of new regulations on air quality will have on mercury use in refining alluvial gold. Submissions are due by the end of July on the government consultation document on changes to the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. The consultation document is vague about what is being proposed, nonetheless Minerals West Coast will be submitting on the proposals, and wishes to hear from any gold miners who still use mercury to refine gold and would be effected if restrictions were put in place.
CPD event successful - more to come
A good turn out about 20 – 30 miners at this month’s CPD training event was encouraging. Wayne Scott, chief executive of MinEx, updated miners on obligations and new health and safety practices for quarries and alluvial gold mines. Minerals West Coast will be arranging another training event for the month of July, and information will be out on this shortly.
Gold mining and ETS covered on Nights, RNZ
About once every 10 weeks Minerals West Coast’s manager, Patrick Phelps, features on RNZ’s evening programme, Nights with Bryan Crump. In the most recent feature, Patrick and Bryan discussed the impact of the emissions trading scheme, and the past and present state of goldmining on the West Coast.
Minex training night for west coast miners
On Tuesday the 9th of June Minerals West Coast and the West Coast Goldminers’ Association will be hosting a Minex training night, including a presentation from Minex chief executive, Wayne Scott.
Wayne will speak to attendants about changes to the mining operations and quarrying regulations, and what these changes will mean for your mining operation, as well as when they take effect.
Mr Scott will also present on the health and safety code of practice for alluvial mining. This is a how-to guide that has been developed by Minex in collaboration with alluvial goldminers. Wayne will talk to attendants about the guide’s content, and how to use it.
There will also be general discussion on health and safety issues, codes of compliance, and WorkSafe requirements.
The even will be held at the West Rugby Clubrooms in Hokitika, and drinks and refreshments will be provided - RSVP or there won't be enough to go around.
CPD points will be available for those who attend. Please email Patrick Phelps on email@example.com to register to ensure we can prepare certificates of attendance.
If you have any questions about this event, please phone Patrick on 021 238 6846.
Date: Tuesday, 9th June
Venue: West Rugby Clubrooms, Brittan Street, Hokitika
Bathurst Resources is still working through what the impact will be for their operations at Stockton, and how many staff will be needed for care and maintenance and environmental monitoring.
Visits to alluvial sites O.K during shut down but mining not allowed
Alluvial miners should seek advice from WorkSafe and from local authorities such as regional councils regarding their obligations for environmental monitoring and the ability to visit sites for security reasons while New Zealand is in lockdown. MBIE officials told Minerals West Coast they are working through what obligations miners will have to fulfil in this time but will most likely defer to the judgement of authorities like WorkSafe, the Ministry for the Environment and regional councils. West Coast Goldminer’s Association president, Brett Cummings, said there will be serious consequences for anyone mining during this time, and would not recommend “pushing it”, but considers visits to mine sites for monitoring environmental issues and security essential, especially in the event of heavy rain or floods so water quality can be monitored and remedial measures can be taken.
Conservation mining ban off the table till after election
The issue of mining on conservation land will no doubt take a back seat as the country grapples with containing the virus, nonetheless word that any decision on banning mining on conservation land (announced in the government’s speech from the throne in November 2017) has been kicked for touch till after the general election. Damien O’Connor said in the Grey Star last month there would be no moves on the issue before the election, and the Greens have since confirmed they are having difficulty in getting the ban confirmed. This gives miners time to make a case for the industry retaining access to the conservation estate.
Mining's temporary impact emphasised in submission on indigenous biodiversity
Minerals West Coast submitted on the indigenous policy statement for indigenous biodiversity in March this year. The submission covered all aspects of the discussion document relative to the mining industry and can be found in full here. Minerals West Coast’s submission included interviews with miners and landowners for their opinions on how their lives and incomes would be affected by losing control of their land or having it effectively confiscated by the government, and how in such cases compensation should be paid. The submission also included photographs showing the regrowth of native forest after mining operations have ended. It’s unknown when the final policy will be released.
New Zealand food production and well being stressed in submission on proposed coal-ban
A lack of cost-effective alternatives and the danger of sending emitting industries offshore and becoming reliant on food imports were front and centre in Minerals West Coast’s submission to the government’s discussion document Accelerating renewable energy and energy efficiency. The full submission can be found in full on our website by clicking here. The use of coal makes production of dairy, meat, and fresh fruit and vegetables possible, while staying competitive with imports domestically and competitors internationally. New Zealand produces food which boasts a smaller carbon footprint than most other producers in the world, and coal is crucial to doing so.
CPD events planned for 2020 but on hold for time being
With the measures being taken to contain Covid19 it is uncertain when we will be able to again hold CPD training evenings and events like the Minerals West Coast forum and field day. An evening session with Wayne Scott, chief executive of MinEx, the entity responsible for health and safety in the extractives sector, had been planned but has been postponed due to the nationwide lockdown. Once the lockdown is over, Minerals West Coast will reschedule this event. Wayne will give a presentation introducing the new training requirements and regulations for mine and quarry managers and supervisors. This will most likely be in May, but is subject to meeting and travel restrictions.
MWC's full time manager and part time writer. Come here for occasional news and musings on mining, conservation, and regional economics.