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[personal profile] basal_surge
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.

Date: 2010-03-15 10:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're right. But since this is my country I can affect law here, therefore I shall, well as far as my single vote goes. I'm not anti-mining completely, but I do think some stuff should remain untouched. I think the same goes for other countries.

Out of interest, how do you find Idiot Savant's position -

Date: 2010-03-15 11:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Morally bankrupt, because like the rest of us, he's an end user/consumer of the products of the industries he's demonising, but he's preferentially demonising them _here_ and not presenting viable alternatives - because there _aren't_any_. If he actually had any experience, anywhere, of working in a productive industry, I may have had some more time for him. He's an excellent researcher, but he's got a serious ivory tower problem. It's not a closed sum game - any time you protect from/halt an exploitative thing here because it's evil and exploitative, it will just relocate somewhere else where it's easier. Better to allow it, but under modern regulation, as shonky as it may be, rather than no regulation, somewhere overseas.

Date: 2010-03-15 11:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Better to allow it, but under modern regulation, as shonky as it may be, rather than no regulation, somewhere overseas."

I must admit that's a good argument. Here we can regulate the industry and make sure there is environmental controls. Ideally it would be a NZ company so that the profits stay here too.
From: [identity profile]
No, it's not necessarily a good argument. It depends on where the other place is and the impact as a factor of total environment. "Other Places" may have crap regulation or they may not. They may entail mining in the middle of fvcking nowhere with minimal consequential impact upon the total environment, or they may be tiny places where the mining will effectively destroy the place itself. Compare nitrate mining in Australia vs whichever pacific island it was that pretty much doesn't exist any more as a going concern because of the mining.

The original argument itself is spurious as well: mining /= civilisation as we know it.

Starting from a false statement and then waving the hands furiously does not a solid argument make. That said, I'd agree that idiot savant is barking on this one. The argument has yet to be made why mining in X or Y place in and of itself is a Good Thing. Paternalistic bollocks from the govt about we need to do it to gain on the aussies (what, we're in a fvcking race now?) or why it simply Has To Be Done (so therefore we should do it now) is all just so much crap.

Someone, show a *need* for it and you might get some respect on the argument front. At this point, the idea of fvcking off somewhere else and mining shit from their shit seems like the bright move. After all, if it really is a valuabvle resource and getting scarcer then the longer you don't mine it here (or there, given my location) the *more* valuable it becomes, and it's not like NZ has an actual *need* to mine any of it.

This sort of made sense when I started. Sort of.
From: [identity profile]
Your spelling is probably better than mine :)

Yup, I see what you are saying. I think one of the problems is that most of us (me included) have no idea about mining around the world. I think people (me included) are reacting on an emotional level to mining in National Parks rather than weighing up all the pros and cons because we don't actually really have any knowledge with which to do so. Certainly part of it is that National Parks are supposed to be left alone - that's why they were created.

Hmmm... it seems as though everything we buy has a huge social/environmental cost. Our clothes made in Chinese sweatshops, okay our pretty much everything made in Chinese sweatshops. Coffee, tea and cocoa picked by people in terrible conditions, all that palm sugar grown in cut down jungle. Sigh...

Date: 2010-03-16 11:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He may be a good researcher, but it doesn't me he always does good research, or any research for that matter.

Date: 2010-03-15 11:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Guilty as charged, but there's a reason I use an old computer, an old tv and drive an old car (and yes, I know that I'm putting petrol in it). I think that mining is necessary up to a point, but, particularly in environmentally significant areas, needs to be weighed up against its impacts. And I think that as consumers, we can choose to limit the amount of mining products we use.

Date: 2010-03-15 07:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Why do you think I use clothing exclusively from second hand shops excepting for socks and underwear; am obsessive about using and recycling into use old tools and timber; etc.

But the point is, that's not enough, because even with all the things we do to mitigate resource use growth, it's not working.

Date: 2010-03-15 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I agree. I wonder when all the obsession with growth as the optimum economic state will end? Not to mention, at least in Australia, a political revival of the 'populate or perish' ideology.

Date: 2010-03-15 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't think we own any new computer stuff, certainly our tvs are very old, sourced second hand. Shoei just keeps getting given old stuff and he can make it work. Most people couldn't do that though.

Date: 2010-03-16 11:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Because you're a skinflint hippy?

Date: 2010-03-15 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My objections are that though the sites chosen for investigation are on some of the higher end of the 'ecological scale' (which ), it also seems that the scheme seems to be set up so that unlike Australia, where Australian mining companies exploit Australian resources for the profit of Austrailia, here it will be Overseas mining companies will exploit New Zealand resources for the profit of Overseas investors. In addition they seem to be targeting sites where the only economic method of extraction is open cast mining, and in the some cases the choice of the site is contrary to advice from GNS or local councils, so clearly some outside interest is directing the selection of these sites.

There are so many _other_ ways they could open up land for mining that would be substantially less dodgy.

Finally, what kind of mining company would take on those sites when they're very likely to be snatched back off them with a change in government.

Date: 2010-03-15 10:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yup, see my first paragraph. I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the big overseas companies has had a quiet word in national's ear, and have cherrypicked the easy sites, based on existing public data; And the type of mining company would be one that's mostly overseas owned, operating through a nest of shell companies, so that they can pull out and leave the skeleton shell company with no resources as a stalking horse for any post mining cleanup problems. 's how we do it everywhere...

Date: 2010-03-16 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm not saying this info is incorrect, but I would hesitate to trust anything forest and bird say, they are consummate whackjobs.

Date: 2010-03-22 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm reading the Government paper now, Forest and Bird were right on the money this time.

Date: 2010-03-22 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Again, quite possibly, but as a group, they are pretty batty, I'm not saying PETA, but a little loose with the sanity.

Date: 2010-03-15 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Mining is, as you say, inevitable and I'm certainly a consumer of its end products and I accept that the extraction of the raw materials of the consumer culture. I think your points are very valid overall, but, and this is a big but, they rely on governments being actually willing and able to enforce useful regulation of the industry and in a lot of places that has proven basically impossible. Montana is one of the standout examples as far as I know.

My major problem with the idea of mining conservation land is that the profits from the mining will end up off shore, so NZ gets to sacrifice its natural spaces for the enrichment of foreign corporatons.

I'd have far less of an issue if the proposal were to have all of the mining done by an SOE and have the profits remain in NZ *and* if the cost of cleanup and proper long-term stabilising of spoil heaps etc was factored in from the beginning in working out whether it's actually an economically viable exercise.

Date: 2010-03-15 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You'll note I covered this in my first paragraph, and no, you do not want your mining done by an SOE, as having the provider also the regulator is a common state enterprise problem...

Date: 2010-03-16 01:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Is that any worse than the alternatives where the provider has bought the regulator -- as appears to be the case here -- or where as Bloodrage pointed out, the overseas company departs with the profits leaving a bankrupt shell company to fail to do the cleanup as happens all over the rest of the world.

Mining may not be evil, in and of itself, but mining companies certainly do a very good impersonation of it.

Date: 2010-03-16 01:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's not what I'm pissed about. I'm pissed about the hypocrisy of kiwis who want the end product of the industry without having the industry _here_. Which means people like me cheerfully go and fuck someone else's country, and people here get to think they're all fluffy and green when they are _nothing_ of the sort, just displacing the damage overseas.

Date: 2010-03-16 01:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No argument on that from me.

Date: 2010-03-16 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ummm, that's not actually hypocrisy. It's perfectly rational to derive use from a product, understand its origin, and make sure that origin is Somewhere Not Here.

It might be rampant ignorance in that the average kiwi doesn't understand where the minerals that power and make their cellphone work come from, but I don't see it as hypocrisy and kiwis certainly don't have a monopoly on the ignorance front.

Date: 2010-03-16 10:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I would have thought it did qualify as hypocrisy. After all, these people are yelling and screaming at the thought of me mining on conservation land in NZ, but if I step on a plane and fly for four hours, and then mine conservation land in Australia, they seem fine with it. That, I don't get.

Date: 2010-03-16 04:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ah, I see what you mean. Hmmm. On the scale of things, if they're simply not registering that that's what happening, then yes I'd agree but also say it's at the level of garden-variety-unthinking-hypocrisy. If they're fully aware of it and suggest it as a *good* thing then I think you have a point. As it is, I think you can pin the "irrational" label just as effectively and accurately as the "hypocrisy" label: most people simply don't think it through much and few to none of us are going to change that.

Date: 2010-03-16 02:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Only a problem if they're the same body. They needn't be. Anything else and you simply look paranoid.

Date: 2010-03-16 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Speaking as the evil American nuclear/radiation industry professional, NIM/BY/Campus/Building/Lab Next Door is my career. The attitude of >0 DEADLY RADIATIONS is unacceptable under all circumstances is born of the same ignorant attitude that grabs the pitchforks and torches. I had to give a good friend a dressing down when she notified my that the reason she uses the "magic crystal" kitty litter is that she did not want to be irradiating her cats with the "concentrated radiation" of clay kitty liter.

At some level, I find mining for energy abhorrent on purely volumetric basis compared to the nuclear industry. The several orders of magnitude difference in bulk waste production and land mass disturbed is staggering. Yes, I will happily trade one canyon wall worth of uranium mining in Moab, Utah for eight states worth of coal mining.

Because zero is not a valid answer.


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