Story image

Fonterra's Glencoal says Waikato coal mine not on hold, just delayed

03 Mar 15

Fonterra Cooperative Group subsidiary Glencoal has denied suggestions it has put its plans for an open cast mine in the Waikato on hold indefinitely following public opposition.

Former Green Party co-leader and environmental activist Jeanette Fitzsimons claimed today that Glencoal had backed off plans for a mine in Mangatangi despite having gained consent from the Waikato District Council and Waikato Regional Council in late 2013, subject to a number of conditions designed to address environmental and health concerns.

In a blog for the Coal Action Network, which is trying to stop coal mining in New Zealand, Fitzsimons said the local community was celebrating after lodging submissions and staging protests against the mine.

However, a Fonterra spokesman said that while it was experiencing some delays in the project due to the need to minimise environmental impacts, it had not been put on hold.

Fitzsimons also said that Solid Energy had just reopened Kopako 1, an old mine that was part of the same Maramarua coal field as the proposed site for Glencoal's one.

Solid Energy has a contract with the dairy cooperative to supply coal for its Waikato milk drying plants.

Solid Energy spokesman Bryn Somerville said the state-owned coal miner was doing some work on whether it will re-open the Maramarua field but no decision had been made.

The company has bigger problems on its mind right now after it announced today it would delay reporting its first-half accounts because forward pricing for coal may impact its ability to meet debt repayments when they fall due next year. Low coal prices are expected to continue for longer than previously forecast and will mean Solid Energy will need make further structural changes.

Somerville said Solid Energy was looking at potential North island replacements for its Rotorwaro open cast mine, its second-largest coal-field, which supplies major North Island customers such as Fonterra, Genesis Energy and NZ Steel. Options include trying to extend the life of the mine which Somerville said could potentially run out of coal in the next three to six years.

Fitzsimons claimed Fonterra was one of the country's largest coal users, which clashed with the "clean, green image" it liked to use to sell its milk overseas.

Fonterra said it was looking at ways to optimise its energy mix and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels but dairy processing was energy intensive.

The new Kopako open cast mine on 30 hectares of farmland near Maramarua is aimed to replace Glencoal's Kopako 3 mine in the same coal-field which is expected to be depleted by around 2017.

Glencoal's planned new mine will extract coal over eight years and once the mining is finished, the land will be returned to pastoral farming.

Submitters raised concerns about respiratory problems for locals from dust, noise and traffic, and adverse effects on waterways downstream from the mine. The commissioners found the health risks raised were overstated and conditions could be put in place to mitigate the dust effects and limit the noise. They were also satisfied there would be no significant adverse effects on the Waikato River.

Wine firm uses AR to tell its story right on the bottle
A Central Otago wine company is using augmented reality (AR) and a ‘digital first’ strategy to change the way it builds its brand and engages with customers.
DigiCert conquers Google's distrust of Symantec certs
“This could have been an extremely disruptive event to online commerce," comments DigiCert CEO John Merrill. 
Protecting organisations against internal fraud
Most companies tend to take a basic approach that focuses on numbers and compliance, without much room for grey areas or negotiation.
Telesmart to deliver Cloud Calling for Microsoft Teams
The integration will allow Telesmart’s Cloud Calling for Microsoft Teams to natively enable external voice connectivity from within Teams collaborative workflow environment.
Jade Software & Ambit take chatbots to next level of AI
“Conversation Agents present a huge opportunity to increase customer and employee engagement in a cost-effective manner."
52mil users affected by Google+’s second data breach
Google+ APIs will be shut down within the next 90 days, and the consumer platform will be disabled in April 2019 instead of August 2019 as originally planned.
GirlBoss wins 2018 YES Emerging Alumni of the Year Award
The people have spoken – GirlBoss CEO and founder Alexia Hilbertidou has been crowned this year’s Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) Emerging Alumni of the Year.
SingleSource scores R&D grant to explore digital identity over blockchain
Callaghan Innovation has awarded a $318,000 R&D grant to Auckland-based firm SingleSource, a company that applies risk scoring to digital identity.