“You will not get your coal mine… Believe it in your hearts”
On the Monday of the 26th day of August 2013, the above promise is the one I gave to the high powered Fonterra executives and engineers and their crack team of expensive lawyers, who had gathered at the Mangatangi Marae that morning to begin the hearings for consent from the Waikato Regional and District Councils to establish a new open cast coal mine in Mangatangi. I wasn’t bluffing, I was deadly serious, I meant it, and I believed it.
“The concept is simple, we all understand it. Coal is putting a pane of glass over the world.”
“To the Commissioners and representatives of Fonterra gathered here. I would like to say to you before the paepae, that whatever the outcome of these hearings and the decisions you make, you will not get your coal mine.
“We are the people who stopped nuclear ships. We are the people who stopped racist sporting tours. We are the people who stopped the sub-division of Bastion Point.
“To the Commissioners especially. I would like to say, that if you approve the consents for this coal mine your names will be all over this economic, environmental and political disaster.
“If there is one message I would like you to hear, it is this: We will stop your mine. It will never go ahead. Believe it in your hearts.”
Mana Spokesperson for Climate Change and member of Auckland Coal Action. August 26, 2013
Despite gaining all the consents they sought, Fonterra’s coal mine at Mangatangi has been stopped.
This isn’t a fluke. I did not make my promise before the Paepae at Mangatangi to Fonterra’s gathered executives, and the Regional politicians and resource commissioners lightly.
Like many others I have come to realise, that climate change is a deadly threat to humanity, and that we must do everything within our power to stop it. Coal has been identified as the number 1 single greatest cause of climate change. This is the reason Green Party and Mana Movement official policy is to oppose all new coal mines. Myself and many others know that we must prevent all new coal mining in this country, at any and all personal cost. We were determined to stop this mine and we succeeded.
Many people ask me, why coal? Why not some other fossil fuel?
My usual answer is this: ‘We all know how addicted we are to oil and petrol and how hard it is to give up our cars. But coal is something that is rarely required in modern life and is something we could easily do without. As well as being the most dangerous of the fossil fuels, coal is the most easiest to get rid of.’
And rid of it we must. James Hansen formerly a director at NASA has said, that if we can’t get rid of coal it is all over for the climate.
But there is another reason. Australia.
Australia is the world’s biggest exporter of coal, and unlike New Zealand, a major emitter. Being another English speaking settler country, and also containing a strong unquenchable indigenous culture, our nearest neighbor Australia is a close cultural cousin. If we can get rid of coal they can too. And they want to, many Australians are frightened by the devastating affects of climate change that is ravishing their country.
But the battle against new coal mines here, is not over yet, not by a long shot. Despite Auckland Coal Action presenting Fonterra a rigorous scientific study showing that they could use sustainable wood chips to fire their dairy plants. Fonterra refuse to take us seriously and are determined to use coal and ignore our submissions.
Fonterra despite saying a number of times that they would not buy coal from Solid Energy because it is too expensive. Now, with the confounding of their plans to mine at Mangatangi, Fonterra plan to do just that.
Fonterra have gone to Solid Energy to supply them. In response Solid Energy who are “Technically Insolvent” have been given a lifeline by Fonterra to reopen an old coal mine that they abandoned in the ’90s to provide Fonterra with the coal fix they crave. Just 5ks up the road from Mangatangi at Maramarua, Solid Energy plan to reopen the old Kopuku open cast mine that once supplied coal to the decommissioned Meremere coal fired power station.
Stopping this second mine will not be as easy as stopping the first one, but it can be done. But it will require more than just the resources that Auckland Coal Action can muster. This is why I am writing this, to appeal to all groups who are concerned about climate change to add your strength and numbers against the reopening of the Kopuku open cast coal mine at Maramarua.
If you join us, I can again promise “We will stop your mine, believe it in your hearts”
Government announces second bail out of “Technically Insolvent” Solid Energy:
Solid Energy continues round of savage layoffs:
Green Party on first Solid Energy Bail Out. October 1, 2013
“Coal is not going to be the fuel of our future if we are to stabilise our climate.
“New Zealanders and Solid Energy workers need a just transition into more sustainable jobs – jobs that don’t fry the planet.”
2012 Fonterra says developing Mangatangi Mine cheaper than reopening Kopako
2009 Solid Energy Kopako reopening plan.
Kopako-Whangamarino Wetland. Threatened plants/birds/animals
2006 consent to reopen Kopako
2014 Solid Energy Annual Report – Mysterious unnamed “new customer”?
“We renewed long-term contracts with key North Island customers, New Zealand Steel and Genesis Energy and concluded a thermal coal supply agreement, for more than 100,000 tonnes a year, with a new customer.”
Solid Energy job advertisement: Closing date for applications, December 16, 2014
“The site has seen considerable historic opencast mining activity and was first developed in 1958 to deliver coal to the Meremere Power Station. This power station was decommissioned in 1991 but the original mine continued to deliver coal to industriall customers until the late 1990’s.
Plans to recommence mining withing this area are underway. There is a large remaining coal resource at Maramarua and the recommencement of mining here should be the start of a long life operation.”
Solid Energy job advertisement: Closing date for applications, December 10, 2014
“Plans to resume mining in this area are now under way. There is a good immediate coal resource available and we have potential at Maramarua to consent and develop further resources if this is supported by customer demand.”
A just transition away from coal
Mangatangi Marae Powhiri Address
Mine Hearings Powhiri