Landowners wait for platinum details

JESSICA RODEN AND SARAH DUNN
Last updated 12:58 28/07/2014

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Farmers near Murchison and Nelson Lakes are waiting to hear how they may be affected by platinum exploration permits.

Canadian company Lynx Platinum was awarded three permits covering 355 square kilometres, though access to private land still has to be negotiated with landowners.

Much of the area, which includes parts of the Gowan and Howard Valleys, is farmland.

Dairy farmer David Field owns a piece of land in Gowan Valley Rd that appears to be in the area of exploration.

He had not heard about the project and said he would be mainly concerned with how it affected his farm.

"I guess I would need to know how that exploration would get in the way of our farming activities."

National candidate for West Coast-Tasman Maureen Pugh has applauded the new permits as a relief for the electorate following redundancies in local mines.

"This announcement could not have come at a better time for the electorate," Pugh said.

In February, 137 staff lost their jobs at Solid Energy's Stockton mine just north of Westport. Pugh said the mining sector benefited everyone, noting that even cellphones contained 75 minerals.

The permits give the company the opportunity to explore the land for five years. If an economic discovery is made during that stage the company has to apply for a mining permit.

Department of Conservation partnerships manager Dave Hayes said the area covered by exploration permits included separate areas of DOC stewardship and reserve land near Murchison.

Exploration was allowed there, but any company wishing to carry out such activity would have to first gain an access arrangement from DOC before they could begin.

Hayes said DOC assessed all applications for an access arrangement against factors that included the status of the land, the impact of the proposed activity and what possible steps could be taken to mitigate that impact.

"DOC works through the standard process to ensure that significant conservation values are not compromised by any potential activity."

Hayes said DOC had yet to receive any access applications from Lynx Platinum, so it was unable to assess what kind of effect exploration might have on the conservation values of the area.

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- The Nelson Mail

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