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Emperor coal's dreams

Last updated 11:21 03/12/2012

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OPINION: Some time soon, Solid Energy's trial briquette plant will be commissioned.

Some time in the new year the location for the urea plant is to be announced, and soon all those Gore District Council studies commissioned a year or so ago will be published too.

Six or seven years ago we were promised that the hidden value of lignite was about to be unlocked in a golden shower of briquettes, urea and diesel.

Several thousand hectares of farmland had been bought and practical people were at work.

I wrote to the district council asking how many hectares, and the answer was, ''Don't know'', so I thought, ''Lucky Solid Energy - no rates bill'', and moved on.

I am still wondering at that lack of concern for the future of the land, because at the scale of mining proposed, there would only be token rehabilitation, but it all turned out to be a dream anyway.

It wasn't the Greens who put the knife in, but killer accountants.

It had been a long grasshopper summer with nothing put aside for a rainy day. The cupboard was bare and Emperor Coal had no clothes.

So now we are back where we began, a few hundred thousand dollars worse off for surplus district council plans and a fair tract of land saved from ruination.

A urea plant in a world bubbling with gas?

Dream on.

A liquid fuels plant?

Fairyland.

Next time perhaps we'll be a little wiser.

JOHN PUREY-CUST

Gore

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- The Southland Times

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