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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 24, September 27, 1976.

Mining Act Opens the Gate

Mining Act Opens the Gate

Concerning mining, the most influential Act is the 1971 Mining Act, which gives carte blanche mining rights to any enterprise which has a prospector's permit.

This act was originally brought into being to facilitate the growth and development of mining in general. Its conditions make it clear that, in the case of prospector's permits being given, the company involved may utilize its claim in any means it sees fit.

It is an ill thought out piece of legislation which has, ironically, helped restrict further exploitation of the National Parks.

Prior to 1971, a prospector's licence was separate from the right to mine. Thus before a company could gain mining rights, it had to conduct thorough prospect surveys and present a realistic scheme for approval.

The right of companies to prospect National Parks, while obviously displaying intent, did not threaten the existence of the parks, and so prior to 1971 the Authority found no reason to restrict them. In fact often these surveys were of assistance; for as a Lands and Survey Department spokesman put; "The Authority is interested in the geological content of its parks - as well as its forest and animal life".

This is shown in the statistics of permit approvals given from the period of 1967-71. Of the over 160 [unclear: applications] for prospecting rights only a few were refused.

The 1971 Act puts the matter in an entirely different perspective. It is not surprising therefore, that the Authority has not granted prospecting permission for any one of the 67 applications since 1971, when such permission would effectively preclude their ability to control exploitation.

What has become a matter of increasing concern is the Government's intention to ride roughshod over the principles of preservation laid down in the National Parks Act for the sake of crude and temporary, economic gain.

A background to Consolidated Silver's participation in Fiordland reveals how tenuous the prospects of these parks surviving really is - especially in terms of a government whose sole perception of what makes a nation great is in terms of its ability to generate money.