23 Dec 2015

Rare species could be moved for mine

10:03 am on 23 December 2015

Labour's West Coast MP Damien O'Connor says an open-cast mine in the lower Buller Gorge would be welcome if environmental impacts could be mitigated.

A coal mining consortium has restarted efforts to develop the mine in the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area.

The Buller Gorge.

The Buller Gorge. Photo: 123RF

Such a mine would employ 64 people and inject as much as $20 million into the local economy, the developers said.

But it would threaten native wildlife including insects and lizards, the Department of Conservation said.

DOC has invited public submissions on the project.

The issues needed to be investigated further, and there may be other areas the rare species could live, Mr O'Connor said.

Damien O'Connor.

Photo: RNZ

"Wherever you go in the bush you'll be potentially impacting on some of the native wildlife, and DOC have to put the report up, I'm no expert on that."

"Those things do have to be weighed up, we don't want to destroy any rare species but they may have other areas that they can live," Mr O'Connor said.

It would cost a lot to extract the coal, and because of its high value, it should be used in technology rather than burned for electricity, he said.