Regional policies and mineral resource potential of New Zealand

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Barker, R.G.; Christie, A.B.; Robson, R.N.; Graham, I.J. 2006 Regional policies and mineral resource potential of New Zealand. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2006/25 68 p.

Abstract: The minerals industry in New Zealand began with pre-European Mâori trading pounamu (greenstone) and other minerals. Early European settlement was soon followed by gold rushes and the development of coal mining in the 19th century. Government involvement during the 20th century included State Coal Mines acquiring most of the coal mining industry, and government investment in research and development eventually leading to the establishment of the steel works at Glenbrook, south of Auckland. The minerals industry is now producing minerals and coal with an ex-mine value of more than $1 billion each year, about half of which is exported. The remainder is used to build infrastructure such as roads, support other export industries, particularly agriculture, and provide raw materials for New Zealand manufacturers. Coal is used within New Zealand mainly for generating electricity and for steelmaking. New Zealand’s mineral and coal resources have a potential gross value of more than $400 billion at current prices, and the way they are managed affects this country’s economic performance, along with the living standards of its population. New Zealand is a long way from realising its mineral potential. Minerals are included within the definition of “natural and physical resources” in the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), which requires local authorities (regional and district councils) to manage minerals, together with other resources, through the policies and plans that they produce under the RMA. Each regional council must prepare a regional policy statement, the purpose of which is to provide an overview of the resource management issues of the region, and policies and methods to achieve integrated management of the natural and physical resources of the whole region. Regional plans and district plans must give effect to regional policy statement s. There are wide disparities in the way that regional policy statements deal with mineral resources, and the extent to which these policies are taken up in District Plans. A large quantity of minerals information is publicly available in digital products and on the world-wide web, but to date there has been little uptake of this information by regional and district councils. Otago Regional Council has included a geological map on their website, but there is potential for more utilisation by councils of minerals resource data for management and planning, and for providing information to their constituents. Minerals information can, and should, be used to market a region’s potential for exploration and mineral development. (auth)