Date set for West Coast mine plan appeal

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 16:30 28/06/2012

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The Environment Court appeal against Bathurst Resources plans to mine the Denniston Plateau is expected to take more than a month.

The hearing will be held in Christchurch on October 29, with four weeks set down for the affair with an extra two-week break.

Perth-based miner Bathurst Resources, operating behind subsidiary Buller Coal, won resource consent for its Escarpment Mine project in August last year.

A residents' association and environmental groups Forest & Bird and the West Coast Environment Network appealed the consent.

The residents' group was appeased by a plan change that would see slower development, with less impact on people living nearby.

That plan is still subject to resource consent approvals, which Bathurst has indicated it may seek through the Environmental Protection Authority "national significance" fast-track process.

Meanwhile, the company is continuing, through the Environment Court, to defend the consents for their original plan to have as a backup.

A preliminary hearing ruling that regional government should plan for climate change, but leave regulatory action on it to central government, was also appealed by the environmental groups. That appeal will run alongside the main appeal.

Bathurst, which has several other developments in the Denniston area, has spent tens of millions and has set up a Wellington office to show its intentions to stay long-term in New Zealand.

It plans to mine about 500,000 tonnes annually from Escarpment in the first three years, before scaling up. It has several other mines and planned developments in the area.

The Escarpment plan aims to mine 6 million tonnes of coal and the company says it will inject $1 billion into the country and create 225 jobs.

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