Miner's Head: Remnants of Great Barrier Island's first copper mine, a glimpse into the island's industrial past. Photo / LawrieM / CC

Ministry Declines to Confirm or Deny Fast-Track Mining Applications on Great Barrier Island

Miner’s Head: Remnants of Great Barrier Island’s first copper mine, a glimpse into the island’s industrial past. Photo / LawrieM / CC

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) has refused to confirm or deny whether fast-track mining applications have been made for Great Barrier Island, saying releasing any such information would be premature.

AoteaGBI.news initially sought comment from the MfE on May 27, 2024, regarding any fast-track applications or resource exploitation projects being considered or approved on the island.

Over a month after the initial inquiry, the MfE responded on July 2, stating,

“The independent Projects Advisory Group is still reviewing applications before making recommendations to joint Ministers on projects for inclusion in Schedule 2 of the Fast-track Approvals Bill. Releasing project information could lead to assumptions about a project’s inclusion in the Bill before it has been through the assessment process.”

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History of Mining on Great Barrier Island

Aotea has a long history of mining, dating back to the 1840s when copper was discovered at Miners Head, and the country’s first mine was opened there in 1842. Small-scale mining of other minerals, including gold and silver, continued until the mid-20th century.

In recent years, the prospect of renewed mining on the island has ignited controversy. A 2011 government proposal to open conservation land for mineral exploration was met with fierce opposition from some residents, environmental groups, and the local board. The concerns manifested in widespread protests against mining on conservation land under the John Key National government, both on Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel Peninsula.

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Local Perspectives on Fast-Track Mining

The local board has been highly critical of the current government’s fast-track bill, expressing concerns about its potential impact on the island’s unique environment and community. However, Hauraki Gulf councillor Mike Lee has offered a more optimistic view, suggesting that the bill could provide opportunities for economic development while emphasizing the need for robust environmental safeguards.

AoteaGBI.news has today filed an Official Information Act request for details of fast-track projects tipped for Great Barrier Island.

The Ministry has 20 working days to respond to the OIA request.

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