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National Party Energy and Resources Spokesperson Jonathan Young is calling on the Government to make a positive decision on access for the Te Kuha Mine after visiting the site recently.

“The Te Kuha Mine is a crucially important regional development opportunity for Westport and the Buller region,” Mr Young says.

“Fifty-eight high paying jobs would make a big difference to a region that’s had some tough times. And those pay packets will flow into more jobs in the retail and service sectors in Westport.

“It’s a big deal for the town, and local MP Damien O’Connor should be supporting it.

“The Government’s new policy that will stop new mining on DOC land needs to be rejected. While National agrees that there should be no mining on schedule four land, not all DOC land has high conservation value, and modern mining ensures sites are rehabilitated with net environmental benefits to the region.

“A 497 hectare biodiversity management and habitat enhancement programme will be developed adjacent to the mine as well as a further 5000 hectare programme off-site.

“It’s important to understand that the high-grade metallurgical coal from this mine can be used for the development of products like activated carbon used in filters for water and air purification and in kidney dialysis machines.

“Te Kuha coal is most likely to be used for steel production. Today’s renewable electricity infrastructure requires high quality steel. Whether it is for wind, hydro or geothermal turbines, high pressure water and steam piping, or the cables electricity runs through, it’s definitely still part of our future.

“The West Coast coal fields are New Zealand’s only known source of metallurgical (coking) coal, which is valued internationally for its low ash and sulphur content. The world still needs this high quality coal, and will use it in a myriad of ways – other than burning it for heat.

“The Government is incredibly myopic if they think closing down the opportunity to extract such high grade coal is in the best interests for New Zealand or the West Coast, or will accelerate us to a net zero carbon future. That future needs the high quality products Te Kuha coal can create.”

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