Mar. 15th, 2010

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I've posted versions of this as comments elsewhere twice today, so I may as well put it up here

To paraphrase what I've said about this elsewhere, I think the current government's fairly shallow reasoning behind opening more conservation land here to mining is faulty, and that they're dreaming if they think they can somehow jumpstart a mining industry here that can get us towards an economic par with the Australians. (While NZ is fairly rich in mineral resources, especially offshore, NZ is just not big enough to have enough easily accessable high value mineral resources to run enough mining and exploration to make the same sort of contribution to GDP and living standard that it does in Australia, and what it could do would not be for very long, plus most of the money from it will go directly overseas because most of the mining companies will be foreign owned.)

But here's the rub: For my part, I've worked in mining and exploring for mining _conservation_ lands overseas, on and off for the past twenty years. Thus it would be hypocritical of me not to mine/explore conservation lands here if my employer so entailed me.

It is arrogance in the extreme to assume, as many of my acquaintances do, that our environment is any more unique or deserving of protection than the various Australian and South American environments I've been involved in surveying, mapping, drilling, bulldozing and blasting overseas, at various points since 1994.

The only point of difference is that mining in New Zealand conservation lands is mining where we know about it, and it might impact upon something we are familiar with. But every single place I've ever unleashed a bulldozer or drilling rig or explosives on was equally unique and rare an environment. They all had endangered species, they all had delicate ecological balances. And we cannot run anything like the society and living standards we have without mining them. The internet cannot exist without it, we cannot have this discussion without it. None of our technology can exist without it, not unless we are all willing to live and work in a functionally third world situation.

I am not currently directly involved with the mining industry. Most of my mentors, old classmates and students are, and I will probably be so again at some point in my career. I have utterly no qualms about that, because every single greenie out there on the planet contributes to paying for it anyway, every time they buy any new item containing any metal or petrochemical or mined mineral or stone of any sort. All they can do is protect _their_ local cause celebre, but for every one they protect, someone will pay someone like me to go mine something else, somewhere desolate and remote and generally without a sufficently furry and cute environmental macguffin to attract much interest at all, and you'll all buy the eventual end products.


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