27 Aug 2013

Future for mining in NZ still strong, says minister

3:06 pm on 27 August 2013

The Government says New Zealand's mining industry still has a strong future, despite recent job losses.

In his keynote address to the New Zealand meeting of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy in Nelson, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said recent job losses should not be cause for immediate concern and mine companies need to be smarter in applying for more exploration permits.

He says the booming Asian economy will ensure New Zealand's gold, silver, platinum and coal will be in demand for many years to come.

Responding to some industry experts who questioned whether the mining sector has a long-term future, Mr Bridges said mining had copped some flak recently of being a "boom and bust" sector but that was not backed up by facts.

He says figures from Statistics New Zealand consistently show that mining businesses are some of the longest lasting firms across all sectors.

The minister also pledged health and safety standards in mines would soon be up to the standard of other developed countries.

He made reference to the Pike River tragedy, saying legislation currently before Parliament will significantly improve mine safety to ensure such an accident never happens again.

Twenty-nine men died in explosions in the Pike River coal mine, on the West Coast, in November 2010.

Mr Bridges says the bill paves the way for a new set of mining regulations that will bring New Zealand health and safety standards in line with best practice.