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Interest in Northland metallic minerals exploration invited

13 June 2012

The government’s tender process to manage competitive interest in metallic minerals exploration in New Zealand’s Northland region is now underway.

The opening of the tender for exploration permits follows the public release of over 13,500 square kilometres of airborne aeromagnetic data gathered in 2011, and supporting interpretations of the data by GNS Science.

"Northland is a region with minerals potential,” says David Binnie, General Manager of New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals, a branch of the Ministry of Economic Development.

“To manage interest in metallic minerals, the Ministry of Economic Development is undertaking a competitive tender process to allocate exploration permits to the companies that can best develop them and ascertain if there are commercially viable mineral deposits.

“Minerals exploration companies now have six months to evaluate the aeromagnetic data and submit five-year, staged, exploration work programme bids.”

The launch of the Northland 2012 tender follows consultation with Northland iwi and local authorities between 5 March and 4 May 2012. Fourteen submissions were received.

“Many thanks to submitters for the input they made to how minerals resource development should proceed in Northland,” says Mr Binnie.

“Submissions have been carefully considered. While a number of submitters made requests to exclude areas from the Northland 2012 tender area, mainly for reasons of protection of wāhi tapu, it has been decided to not change the boundary of the tender area. Processes for protection follow the tender.

“The government is concerned that wāhi tapu are respected. Where appropriate, that protection will be by way of current processes.

“For example, already there is significant active protection of registered lands and cultural sites under the Resource Management Act. The Far North District Plan has an inventory of 343 such sites and restricts activities within those sites. The plan also lists 183 registered archaeological sites, including numerous middens, Pā and terraces.

“For unregistered sites, the terms and conditions of the tender encourage the permit holder to engage with relevant iwi and hapū, so as to foster communication and relationships between the explorer and affected iwi and hapū.

“Furthermore, New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals will develop and implement a process of continued engagement with Northland iwi and hapū, aimed at further information sharing, exploring further means of protection for cultural sites, and options for Māori economic development in connection with minerals activity.”

New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals will convene a bid evaluation panel to evaluate applications. Successful applications are expected to be announced in early April 2013.

Further information is available on the New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals website

 

Background

The Northland 2012 competitive minerals tender is open from 13 June to 7 December 2012, to allow exploration companies sufficient time to evaluate the technical data and prepare bids. Northland 2012 data packs are freely available from New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals.

The following areas in Northland are excluded from exploration permitting: Ninety Mile Beach and Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Rēinga), being land of spiritual significance to all Māori; land now known as Warawara that is of paramount importance to the hapū of Te Rarawa; land listed as unavailable for mining under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act 1991; the Waipoua Forest tract and Trounson Kauri Park Scenic Reserve; and land over which permits already exist.

Exploration permits are given for five years, with a right of renewal for another five years. Exploration activities include surveys, sampling, geological studies, exploration drilling, analysing data and compiling reports. This work helps to build understanding of the geology of the permit area and to identify mineral deposits. Any discoveries are then evaluated for their commercial feasibility.

An exploration permit does not include mining rights – any company that wishes to start mining will have to make a new permit application, which is evaluated by New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals.

All exploration and mining activity is subject to strict health and safety requirements (under the Health and Safety in Employment Act) and any environmental requirements (as set by a regional authority under the Resource Management Act consenting process).

Land owner access arrangement(s) is also required before any exploration or mining activity can proceed.