CLAIMS that a private company plans to carry out open-cast land mining on the East Cape have sparked concern among Gisborne environmentalists.
The Ministry of Economic Development (MED) received an application on April 22, 2010 to prospect across 1599 square kilometres of East Cape land north of a line from Waiomatatini across to Whanarua Bay.
The area includes a mix of Crown, Conservation, Maori and privately-owned land.
Ngati Porou leaders were unable to comment on the mining proposal although the permit process is believed to be one of the issues under discussion in ongoing negotiations between the iwi and the Crown.
The Government has clashed with East Coast and Northland iwi groups over whether they were properly advised about exploration licences.
Gisborne District Council candidate Manu Caddie says the East Cape application went under the radar with submissions closing in May before local groups became aware of it.
“MED notified the permit on their website but provided no notice through local media or any other proactive measures to encourage submissions from the public on the permit application,” he says.
Mr Caddie says he has asked MED if they will still accept submissions up to July 31 before finalising their report to the Minister of Energy and Resources Gerry Brownlee.
Mr Brownlee is expected to make a decision on the prospecting permit before the end of the year.
Mr Caddie has called on the Environmental Defence Society to help assess the legal and planning options available for communities wanting to make a submission on the permit.
He says Kwikswerv Mining Ltd, the company submitting the application, was incorporated in the same month that it made the application.
The company is believed to have one director Francis Zhang, who operates a scaffolding company in South Auckland from the same address as Kwikswerv Mining Ltd.
The permit is for two years and includes minerals that would require open-cast mining including; lead, zinc, bismuth, magnesium, titanium, ilmenite, silver, aluminium, tin, rutile, copper, iron, iron sand, platinum, antimony, gold, tantalum, nickel, tungsten, molybdenum and rare earths.
The claims come at a time when the Government is being criticised by Maori leaders for its failure to consult properly with iwi over onshore and offshore mining activity.
Maori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples says people are talking past each other.
“Mining companies say ‘we have consulted’. Government says ‘we have consulted’. And when they get down to the people, they say they haven’t been consulted. I think there are different cultures in terms of what constitutes consultation. Our way is, of course, kanohi ki te kanohi, face-to-face and sit down and explain the entire limitations.”
Dr Sharples says each iwi has rangatiratanga rights over its area and should have the right to decide whether mining can be allowed.