Environmental groups are fighting a planned coal mine on the Buller coalfields, saying it will destroy habitat essential for wildlife.
Australian company Bathurst Resources wants to develop a large open cast mine on conservation estate on the Denniston Plateau, producing about 1 million tonnes of coal a year.
The Department of Conservation says the mine would result in the loss of nearly 150 hectares of habitat.
Debs Martin, of the Forest and Bird Society, says the expansion of mining in the Buller coalfields would be disastrous for the sensitive biodiversity, including great spotted kiwi and the native powelliphanta snail.
Ninety-two groups or individuals have made submissions on the project, with the majority in support.
Buller Mayor Pat McManus says the new mine would be a big economic boost for the district, creating up to 200 jobs and boosting housing.
A resource consent hearing date has yet to be set.