A new mine on the South Island's West Coast is one step closer after the Environment Court said it is inclined to grant the project consent.
Bathurst Resources is hoping to create a 150-hectare open cast mine on the Denniston Plateau near Westport.
The site has been at the centre of a legal battle since 2011 when the Australian mining company gained resource consents.
An interim decision by the Environment Court gives the mining company more time to come up with appropriate conditions.
Forest & Bird's campaign opposing the mine has generated 10,000 signatures and hundreds of people have attended public meetings on the issue.
A field officer for the environmental group, Debs Martin, says the Denniston Plateau is too precious to mine.
All parties have until 16 April to respond.