Bathurst battles environmental appeals

BATHURST Resources’ plans to start developing its Escarpment hard coking coal project in New Zealand by the end of the year have come to a grinding halt after a third appeal was lodged to the Environment Court of New Zealand against the mine’s resource consents.
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Bathurst at the Buller coal project

Lauren Barrett

The first appeal was brought against Bathurst on September 9 by West Coast Environment Network, which said it would fight the mine’s consent on the grounds of ecological damage from the proposed mine.

“We will do our best to be a force of reason to be reckoned with, and feel that this is the beginning of quite a prolonged battle and a rekindling of the mining debate,” WCEN said on its website.

It said the opencast mine would involve digging up a rare landscape and threaten species that lived on the Denniston Plateau.

A second appeal was then lodged with the Environment Court on September 16 by the Fairdown Residents Association.

It claims its concerns rest with the location of the coal handling facility being located in a rural populated area within view of the main highway.

Three days later another appeal challenging Bathurst’s consents was lodged, this time by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, which will argue that the land should remain protected.

“An open cast coal mine will wipe out the ecology of the Denniston Plateau,” forest & bird president Andrew Cutler said.

“This one of a kind environment is home to some extraordinary plants and animals, and is already conservation land.”

Appeals to the Environment Court against the granting of the Escarpment mine resource consents will end this Friday.

Bathurst was aiming to begin mining on the plateau by the end of the year after it was granted the resource consent.

This start up date now looks unlikely. Bathurst said it would provide further information after the appeals period closed.

The Escarpment open cast coal operation, situated on the South Island plateau, could potentially produce up to 2Mtpa of coal.