Press release
Friday 4 November 2011

Climate change campaigners will gather near Mataura this summer to support Southlanders concerned about the impacts of lignite mining on their communities. The Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival will run from 20-23 January 2012.

As well as music, local field trips and entertainment for the children there will be serious workshops on strategy and tactics for ensuring that the lignite stays in the ground, including training in non-violent action.

“Coal is the worst fuel for the climate, and lignite is a particularly dirty, low-grade form of coal. A safe climate for our children and grandchildren depends on moving to clean energy now. Banning new coal mines is the first step towards this,” said Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson Tim Jones.

Solid Energy’s plans for using Southland’s enormous lignite deposits start near Mataura, where Solid Energy is building a pilot plant to dewater lignite to make briquettes. After that they propose to build a ten times larger briquetting plant, then further plants to make urea and diesel on an even more gigantic scale.

The company has bought up 4,000 ha of good quality farmland for its industrial projects. The Festival will take place on the beautiful sheep farm of Mike Dumbar, who has refused to sell his land for mining.

Some local people are already concerned about the loss of good quality farmland and the health effects of living near open cast mines, as well as the noise, dust, heavy traffic and effects on ground water. People attending the Festival will be engaging with local people in a day of discussion at the Mataura hall where there will be speakers on lignite and the economy; lignite and health; and lignite and climate.

“Coal Action Network Aotearoa is committed to climate justice,” said Tim Jones, “and we are not proposing the closure of the existing small-scale mines in the area. But it does not make sense to begin a whole new industry and create a dependence on dirty coal.”

Registrations for the Festival are now open at


Tim Jones, Coal Action Network Aotearoa Spokesperson
027 359 0293