Fonterra should be ashamed of causing a coal mine expansion

Bathurst Resource’s planned extension of its Canterbury coal mine, shut down by protesters this morning, is proof that dairy companies like Fonterra are not moving out of coal fast enough, says Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA).

“We stand in solidarity with the Extinction Rebellion protesters who have blocked the Canterbury Coal mine this morning: Fonterra should be ashamed that its failure to shift off coal is the reason Bathurst wants to expand this mine,” said Cindy Baxter, of CANA.

“The developed world must stop using coal by 2030 if we want to keep global warming to 1.5˚C under the Paris Agreement, and this should include Fonterra and the rest of the dairy industry. Fonterra’s our second-largest user of coal, used to dry milk: we wonder if our export markets are aware of the pollution behind this product.”

“Not only should the mine extension not go ahead, but Environment Canterbury should shut it down altogether due to Bathurst’s ongoing and extensive breaches of its consents, described by a Judge as a “systemic failure to comply” when he fined the company for yet another breach in January this year.

Over the three years from 2017-2020, Bathurst has been fined a total of around $38,000 for allowing runoff to flow into a local stream 28 times, a stream that is home to a nationally threatened species, the Canterbury mudfish.

ECAN was supposed to hear Bathurst’s application, but this has been delayed. The company had repeatedly failed to provide the Selwyn District Council with information it had requested in order to fully assess the impact of the expanded mine footprint.

In 2017, the Selwyn District Council discovered, in response to local complaints around an increase in traffic, dust and vehicle movements, that Bathurst was mining more coal than it had consent for, and requested that the company apply for that consent.  In her report, planning consultant Janette Dovey stated:

“I was engaged to process that on behalf of SDC in late February 2018. During that process, it became evident that the increase in heavy vehicle movements was directly related to the increase in the volume of coal being extracted, and that the increased Mine production was not consented, with additional non-compliances being applicable.”

“Bathurst appears to have recognised its inability to operate safely and legally to the extent that its new application to increase the mine is riddled with ‘retrospective’ applications to bring its previous breaches within the law. The company is making a nonsense of the regulatory process and ECAN should shut it down,” said Baxter.

 “It’s 2020 and it’s time Aotearoa got out of coal: this mine going ahead shows Fonterra is a laggard, despite all the nice words and membership of so-called sustainable industry groups.”