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Straterra head – industry still has plenty to offer NZ

Straterra head - industry still has plenty to offer NZ

Chris Baker, CEO of Straterra, the voice of the minerals sector of the economy is not backing down when faced with a coalition government that he says seems intent on closing down the mining industry.

He points out there is already the Environment Court and the Resource Management Act to keep a watching brief for the people of this country.

Baker says the coalition Government in its enthusiasm for regional development seems to have ignored just how much mining is a significant community funder in places such as the West Coast of the North Island and parts of rural Waikato, Southland, Otago and the Coromandel.

In doing this Baker notes that exports of gold and coking coal are major contributors to the GDP .

At the same time domestic coal is still an important fuel, particularly for a number of Key industries. Indeed it is the mining of coal that really has caused Baker to attack the Government.

He says Straterra, which is this country’s minerals sector industry organisation, welcomed Energy Minister, Megan Woods’ recent comment on TVNZ’s Q and A, that the government had no plans to end coal mining in New Zealand.

“We note that the government has committed to phasing coal out of electricity generation by 2030, as have the electricity generators themselves. “However, there is much more to coal in New Zealand than the role it plays in generating electricity in the Huntly power station.

“New Zealand exports coking coal from the West Coast. This business provides jobs, much needed export revenue and does not contribute to New Zealand’s carbon emissions account.

“Coking coal is an essential input in the manufacture of steel. While an increasing amount of steel is being recycled, there is currently no technology to make steel, at scale, without using coal. “New Zealand coking coal has certain special qualities and is in high demand internationally.

“If we don’t supply our coking coal, customers will purchase elsewhere, often from producers with lower environmental standards. “That means the steel will still be manufactured, there would be no net gain for the global environment but West Coast jobs would be lost.

No winners there! “The same basic argument applies to the Government’s recent decision to ban offshore oil and gas exploration.

“Coal also plays an important role in producing heat for industrial processes. “Much of New Zealand’s export economy, including agriculture and steel, has grown on the back of New Zealand’s comparative advantage in energy,” Baker says.

“Without cost effective energy, production costs for many of our exports would be higher and New Zealand less competitive in the international markets in which we compete.

“In terms of electricity production, coal and gas continue to play an important role as a back up to intermittent renewable sources.

“Ironically, coal could become a more important option as future gas supplies are impacted by the ban on offshore oil and gas exploration.”

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