The potential for mining to boost struggling rural communities is highlighted in a report that advocates the removal of barriers to mining.
The minerals sector can revive New Zealand’s struggling rural economies, a report titled Poverty of Wealth: Why Minerals Need to be Part of the Rural Economy, produced by The New Zealand Initiative, a think tank says.
New Zealand has gold, silver, coal, industrial metals and non-metallic minerals deposits onshore and oil and gas reserves offshore which have the potential to boost the economy.
“It’s bitterly ironic that the rural regions, as rich as they are in natural resources, are trapped in a cycle of economic decline and poverty,” said Jason Krupp, a Research Fellow at the Initiative, and author of the report.
An economic decline in rural regions is at odds with the mineral resources that are found in the provinces, which are largely under-explored and under-utilised.
They are often not developed because of issues with the Resource Management Act, which have been well documented.
“The environment is a large part of our culture and identity, and we are not advocating for it to be dug up and sold whole, but there is potential to loosen the policy settings to allow for greater economic development in the regions,” says Mr Krupp.
New Zealand can achieve a better balance around extractive industries, in the same way that other developed countries have done.
“These are minerals that are largely owned by New Zealanders through the Crown, so why shouldn’t they get the benefit of them?”
The report is the first in a two part series. The second report, which will contain specific policy recommendations, will be released in early 2015.