The Government is calling for tenders from parties interested in mining for platinum across nearly 4000 square kilometres of the South Island.
Platinum New Zealand 2013, the Government's third competitive minerals tender, opened yesterday.
The tender will allow mining companies to bid for blocks of up to 12,000 hectares to explore for platinum and other precious minerals.
Areas available for exploration are split across Longwood, near Invercargill, along the Grey River, at Murchison and in eastern Nelson.
New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals said sensitive conservation land, protected under schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act, and World Heritage areas had been excluded.
General manager Dave Binnie said he was expecting high-quality tenders to be submitted.
New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals is a branch of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
"Due to the nature of exploration and mining activities for platinum, we can expect interest in this tender from companies with a high degree of experience, understanding and advanced technologies," Binnie said.
"The world demand for platinum is likely to move higher in the future because supply is currently quite constrained."
He said an improving global economy was boosting demand for platinum, while a falling supply from countries such as South Africa was leaving a shortage.
"About 60 per cent of platinum demand is for industrial applications," he said.
The Government has consulted iwi and councils over the areas earmarked for mining.
The tender will close in April next year, with permits expected to be offered to successful companies about June.
- © Fairfax NZ News