Saturday, May 25, 2024

Kerre Woodham: Shane Jones has a point

Resource Minister Shane Jones is all for opening up our extraction industries.

He says New Zealand has an opportunity to double the value of its mineral exports and mine for elements that are heavily sought after for electric technologies. He released a minerals strategy document with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) yesterday and has been consistent with making a strong case for mining - New Zealand has a rich history of mining and the sector has played a significant role in how the country has developed over the past 200 years. He said that Māori excavated pounamu, obsidian, and adzite and they used them for tools, weapons, and ornaments. Then when the Europeans arrived, they found gold and coal. He says the mineral sector exported just over $1 billion in 2022, and Jones hopes to see that number double by 2035, that would see an annual growth rate of just over 7% every year.

He has acknowledged that mistakes have been made in the past around unsafe working environments and environmental despoilment but says the industry and regulators have learned from those mistakes and won’t make them again. The Chief Executive of Energy Resources Aotearoa John Carnegie says the industry is ready to go.

“It’s about having the right conditions in place, and the government’s taking all the right steps to ensure that those things can be unlocked. So, yeah, I’m certainly more positive, you know. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t utilize the wealth that’s under our feet. Export, we, we, have high grade coking coal, and coal used in steelmaking. We export that, there’s no reason why we can’t export a lot more of it. And we have a rich set of resources of critical minerals which we should explore that will help us with developing our technology, and renewable space batteries, wind turbines, so on and so forth.”

That’s John Carnegie, the Chief Executive of Energy Resources Aotearoa talking to Mike Hosking this morning.

Now, naturally you’ve got people who are utterly opposed to anything being dug out of the ground. Forest and Bird is one of them. Hardly a surprise. Richard Capie saying the plan is a “love letter” to offshore mining companies. He said we’re living in a climate and biodiversity crisis, in a country with the highest proportion of threatened species in the world, where all types of public conservation land are valuable and home to endangered plants and animals.

However, Shane Jones is having no truck with that. He says the lands been mined before; it can be mined again. Opening up our land and seas to mining will create regional jobs, economic resilience, and will mean the country is not relying on minerals extracted under poor conditions overseas. And that’s where he’s got a point. Like, you know, would I be happier if not one leafy piece of grass in New Zealand was dug up and overturned? And yes, you know, let nature do its thing and let it be beautiful and fabulous, but then that means I can’t drive a car. I can’t heat my house, I can't use the mobile phone, because if you accept that other people can do it, other people can do it overseas, over there where I can’t see it, that is so hypocritical. If you’re going to be utterly passionate about extraction industries being bad, surely you have to follow through on that, all extraction anywhere is bad, don’t you?

And if you’re talking about unsafe mining practices, you know, unsafe working conditions and unsafe workplace practices, do any of these passionate young greenies who are so against New Zealand being opened up to mining look at the conditions that young African kids are working in overseas, in the mines. Just pick a country in Africa, any country, it’s been raped and pillaged for hundreds of years. And the children there don’t have the option of wagging school, they’re sent down to the mines. And if they’re quite happy using their mobile phones to message each other to go and join the climate march to bring about world peace and stop everything in Gaza, and stop mining, and stop everything. How on earth do they think that those mobile phones are made?

Would it not be better to, and I mean, there’s something about mining. It doesn’t have a good public relations company working for it, other than Shane Jones who seems to be doing quite a good job, because he’s making arguments that you, intellectually, you can’t really argue against. Can you?

Opening up our land and our seas to industries where there has already been mining will mean that the country is not relying on minerals extracted under poor conditions overseas. And that’s exactly what happens if we don’t do it, we buy it from over there from those people, and we can’t see it so it’s okay. And unless you take a purist view saying right, I’m not going to use anything that has been constructed, developed, made, needs to use minerals that come from extractive industries, I’m not going to use any of it, then I’m going to march in the streets against mining in New Zealand, then fine.

But if you’re going to continue to use those products that are ubiquitous in the developed world, then how on earth can you be opposed to mining here? Would you just rather the poor people did it in other countries? And that’s the case Shane Jones is making, and it’s hard to argue against.

Kerre McIvor, is a journalist, radio presenter, author and columnist. Currently hosts the Kerre Woodham mornings show on Newstalk ZB - where this article was sourced.


Anonymous said...

Bottom line: why should we pay foreigners for things we can readily produce for ourselves at a fraction of the cost, in the interests of Green public virtue-signalling and moral preening?

Anonymous said...

Yes Kerre, when you look at the "Consumer Society", whereby we expect "Luxe this" and "exclusive that" - one has to look at the source of these products and not just cry foul when NZ wants to tap into its own resources. We cannot prosper like countries such as Aussie, without more serious development in mineral extraction and mining. Job opportunities are another thing. All this righteous "click-bait Greenism" will get us nowhere as a nation,(other than in debt) while we spend billions importing inferior products, such as "dirty coal" from Indonesia. Solar panels may be de rigeur, but become "heat sinks (being heated below and beneath the panel), heating the atmosphere and defeating the purpose. When the sun shines that is. Full respect to Shane Jones. Confronting the bullies.

Grumpy said...

Hypocrisy appears to be rife around this theme, and I'm glad that Shane Jones and others are challenging that.
For what it's worth, I have posed the following question to the more extreme of the anti-mining brigade many times "Please tell us then, from where do you imagine raw materials originate? You know, those basic materials that we build things from?".
I have yet to hear a rational response.

Peter van der Stam, Napier said...

Now, naturally you’ve got people who are utterly opposed to anything being dug out of the ground. Forest and Bird is one of them.
Yes! Everybody SHOULD know that.
Wind turbines are killing birds, bats and sea life.
But that of course is OK, because the birds should NOT fly in a straight line and avoid those turbines.
And sea live should stay away from the turbines in the sea.