Asset sales costing jobs not creating them

Solid Energy’s announcement last week of the suspension of work at the Spring Creek mine is a devastating blow to the West Coast economy and our local community.

Up to 230 jobs could go (plus others in contractors and related industries), which is very bad news for the workers and their families who are dependent on work at the mine. It will also deliver a real shock to the local economy.

I really feel for those families who have been finding it tough in recent times, even with a pay cheque coming in. These job losses will see many families facing real and significant hardship.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I place the blame for the mine closure squarely on the Government and their unpopular asset sales programme. It is clear that Solid Energy and the other power companies are under instructions to cut costs and maximise their share price in preparation for sale. Evan when that means devastating job losses.

A letter from the Solid Energy board to State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall earlier this year reveals the pressure on the company to maximise the cash that is available from existing operations. Cutting costs, getting rid of lower performing aspects of a business and sacking workers is typical behaviour of companies that are getting ready to be sold.

So if the Government wasn’t so worried about getting the best sales price from (ultimately overseas) buyers for Solid Energy then the pressure to close the mine would be less. Yes, there are issues to do with the declining price of coal, but managing price fluctuations is core business for primary producers, and a state owned power company would have more room to manage that situation than a private company that is just out to maximise profits for shareholders.

Keeping our assets in public ownership so we can sensibly manage the overall energy sector and take into consideration the impact of changes on jobs, communities, consumers and the environment is one of the key reasons the Green Party is actively opposed to the asset sales programme.

While the Green Party is opposed to the development of new coal mines, because of their impact on the environment and climate change, our policy is not to close existing mines. We are okay with existing mines continuing to allow time for the careful planning and transitioning to new jobs and new technologies. Solid Energy’s sudden decision to close the mine is the opposite of what we need to be doing to ensure a viable economic future for the coast.

Big companies like Solid Energy, the local council and local business need to be actively planning now for what we do when the coal runs out. Just shutting the mine with no consideration for the impact on workers, their families and our local economy is poor planning and poor economic management.

That is why it is critical we stop the sale of Solid Energy. If we can stop the sale then there will be less pressure to close the mine. Please go to our website to download the petition to hold a referendum on the asset sales and get involved in our campaign to Keep Our Assets. It may also be the best way to keep our jobs.

54 thoughts on “Asset sales costing jobs not creating them

  1. SPC makes up things that were never said, nor infered, then has and argeument with him/herself about it

    “But you think some Kiwi now working in an unskilled job, as a cleaner or in a supermarket or in fast food, is getting a higher wage because of their mining? Really?”

    It’s blatantly obvious that a huge number of factors go into wage rates. Australia earning 50-100% more in export dollars is one of those factors.

    Mining to Australia, is worth the same percentage of export earnings, as wool, lamb, beef, machinery, fishing, fruit, vegetables, forestry and dairy (the total of all combined) earn in exports % for NZ.

    A third of all Australia listed companies are mining companies.
    – Almost every Australian workers superannuation will be worth more because of mining.
    – 43% of adult Australians own shares, and a large muber of those have more money to spend and invest because of mining.
    – A high exchange rate is one of the major factors why Aussie wages are higher than ours. The PRIME reason for a high A$ exchange rate is countries have to buy A$ to buy minerals.
    – trades and skills of all sorts, from engineers to electricians, builders, welders, drivers, cooks etc – have had to pay increased wages across Australia to stop losing workers to the mines.
    – downstream industries from engineering, building, machinery, catering, all sorts of retail, vehicle sales, housing – are all doing well off mining in places like West Australia, Northern Territory, S.A., Queensland, and parts of NSW and Victoria.

    The point you are missing is that Australia earns so much from mining (around half of all exports), that it has large effects across the whole economy – there are individual mining companies who earn revenue in a year that’s more than the TOTAL capital value of every single listed company in NZ – and that’s just the revenue they earn – the capital value of SINGLE companies is many times that EVERY NZ public company.

    In NZ mining is only a small part of the economy so the effects are relative to the money that mining earns and are obviously more localised.

    But just Thursday there was someone from near Westport on National Radio saying the local area hadn’t felt the recession just because of the Stockton Mine.

    Macraes employs hundreds of workers in the South.

    Numerous local businesses have had to take on extra workers because of long term contracts to Macraes. In fact economic studies have estimated there are an extra 1400 local downstream regional jobs because of Macraes, resulting in an extra $204 million of extra spending in the Dunedin and nearby region, IN ADDITION to 1100 extra jobs and $72 million extra spending in the immediate district, IN ADDITION to the $41 million in direct wages, and $154 in direct purchases and contracts from Macraes with local businesses (not counting millions in tax and royalties).

    The increase in jobs at Macraes will mean from next year AN ADDITIONAL $42 million in wages will come into the local economy.

    But apparently all these thousands of jobs and half a billion dollars of addtional economic activity is bad for our small local economy, all because only part of Oceana is NZ owned.

  2. When a company is owned by an international larger company, the profits tend to be made in the countries with the lowest tax rates. This is because items which are bought and sold within the larger company tend to be at whatever price puts the profit where the taxes are lower. If New Zealand has the higher taxes, mining machinery that gets imported may have a higher price tag than other sub-companies based in different countries might pay. Similarly gold or other metals which are sold to the parent company might be at a lower price. This type of price negotiation simply can’t happen if the local company is locally owned.

    Trevor.

  3. So you have no time for the arguement that it is the labour productivity in each labour market (and related profitability) that determines wage levels in each one? This can remain unchanged, but wages rise simply because there is profitable mining elsewhere in the economy?

    Can you cite any economist who takes this line?

    Many people cite the stronger unions in Oz and their national awards for higher wage levels. Just maybe a more regulated labour market can “artificially” boost wages?

    But you think some Kiwi now working in an unskilled job, as a cleaner or in a supermarket or in fast food, is getting a higher wage because of their mining? Really?

    Then how come the wage for these jobs is lower in the USA than here, despite more wealth in their economy from fracking, mining, oil etc?

  4. SPC asks “Now I am still waiting for you to explain how a foreign owned mine on the West Coast or anywhere else results in higher wages for workers in other labour markets.”

    How mining increases wages elsewhere in Australia was very clearly explained earlier.(Sept 12, 12:05 AM )

    It’s not particularly complicated. If you can’t understand even the most basic economic concepts, then there’s little point trying to explain it further.

    Incredible you think Australia could lose half of all it’s export earnings, and there would be no effect on wages in the rest of the economy.

  5. Do you have a problem with comprehension or just with remaining on topic?

    If the companies are foreign owned, we only retain tax revenue and royalties as local wealth, refers to the difference to local ownership (wages are paid to workers regardless of who owns the companies). This is after all supposedly a discussion around continued local asset ownership – including Solid Energy.

    Now I am still waiting for you to explain how a foreign owned mine on the West Coast or anywhere else results in higher wages for workers in other labour markets. New Zealanders go to mining jobs in other areas of the common CER labour market (Western Oz or Queensland) but this also has no upward impact on pay rates here.

    You wrote that “A good way to compare relative dangers of professions is to see how ACC compares them. The risk premiums they charge for coal mining and gold mining are not even half that of fishing, forestry, or meat processing, and significantly lower than many types of manufacturing and significantly lower than dairy farming, sheep, beef or pig farming etc, but a little ahead of orchard workers.”

    So given that you are aware of spouse support (and for those under 18 and students in full-time teritariy study) and that historic ACC premiums for mining did not factor in the recent loss of life and associated future cost – would they like earthquake premiums be due for an increase?

  6. SPC says “Ridiculous arguments photonz – from arguing that mining is safe ”

    If you were literate, you’d be able to read that I’ve never anywhere said mining was safe.

    I’ve said there are several industries more dangerous than mining.

    SPC says “miners die they don’t go onto ACC”

    You obviously have no idea how ACC works or that it pays out to family of those killed in workplace accidents.

    And in one short post you then show your ignorance of economics

    “if the companies are foreign owned, we only retain tax revenue and royalties as local wealth”

    Macraes spends 1/4 billion dollars a year in NZ on extraction. There are wages, paye etc, and on top of all that are the royalties and taxes.

    But SPC ignores 1/4 billion dollars spent on paye, hundreds of really well paid jobs, supported small businesses and industries – not because they don’t exist – but because they don’t fit with SPCs predetermined ideology.

  7. Ridiculous arguments photonz – from arguing that mining is safe because of lower ACC premiums than other industries (miners die they don’t go onto ACC) to claiming that mining wealth results in higer wages for labour in other markets (if the companies are foreign owned, we only retain tax revenue and royalties as local wealth).

    This is a thread about why we should own our assets and if you really believed that there is so much wealth to be made from mining and it really did result in higher wages for everyone – why not support public ownership of all mining?

  8. Jackal asks “Could you provide a reference to 22 commercial fishermen drowning off Dunedin”

    We have a major disaster with huge loss of life less than two years ago – – almost as many as Pike River – and you don’t know about it? (and can’t even find it on the internet?)

    Jackal – I won’t bother shooting down your mining arguement as you’ve done that yourself.

    You say all the profits go offshore, then say they don’t pay many roylaties on profits because they spend so much in NZ (including wages) getting the gold out.

    And in fact Oceana Gold pays it’s shareholders ZERO dividend. They reinvest their profits, and recently started expanding Macraes which will will result in more new jobs –

    “The expansion of the gold mine, New Zealand’s largest, will create nearly 600 jobs in East Otago.”

    http://www.oamarumail.co.nz/news/mine-set-expand-doc-pact/1117356/

  9. photon

    22 fishermen drowned off Dunedin, 10 drowned off Bluff this year in two accidents, and another two in Fiordland.

    Could you provide a reference to 22 commercial fishermen drowning off Dunedin and 10 drowning off Bluff? The 33 commercial fishing drowning deaths from 2001 to 2011 is a figure provided by the government. Are you saying that National is again providing false information?

    Could it be that you’re confusing commercial fishing with recreational fishing?

    Two companies – Solid Energy and Oceana – have together brought in that much in JUST TWO YEARS.

    As usual you’re only looking at one side of the ledger photon. Besides, Oceana Gold is not a New Zealand owned company, so most of the profits go offshore.

    Oceana Gold is meant to pay royalties to a maximum of 1% ad valorem or 5% of accounting profits, whichever is greater. However companies like Newmont don’t pay any royalties on much of the gold and silver it digs up. That’s gold and silver that belongs to the New Zealand public and we get nothing for it… Plus we have to pay for the cleanup costs.

    Mining companies may immediately deduct their exploration, building, mine shaft, plant and machinery, production equipment and storage expenses.

    Total royalty return to the government is approximately $2.4 billion for mining and just over $3 billion for oil and gas since exploration began in New Zealand.

    You might not have been aware that mining companies pay the Government nominal fees for prospecting, exploration and mining permits ranging from $3.50 per square kilometre for a prospecting permit and $10 per hectare for a mining permit. However National has waived many of these fees. Now that’s unbelievable!

    Mining had a GDP percentage change in annual values of -12.7 in the 2012 March quarter, down -2.3 on the same time last year. It contributes very little to our economy, with most of the profits going off shore. Just like the tax cuts for the rich, increasing our mining will not help the economy. It’s another failed rightwing agenda.

  10. Jackal – Just in the southern South Island, more than 33 have died in less than two years, including 22 fishermen drowned off Dunedin, 10 drowned off Bluff this year in two accidents, and another two in Fiordland.

    Maritime NZ says it’s twice as dangerous as mining. That is why commercial fishermen (and forestry workers, meat workers, farm workers) have to pay twice as much in ACC risk assessed premiums.

    Jackal says “while the mining industry has only returned approximately $2.4 billion since mining began in New Zealand.”

    Jeeze you make up total nonsense.

    Two companies – Solid Energy and Oceana – have together brought in that much in JUST TWO YEARS.

    And the govt gets $450 million a year in royalties and levies, in addition to considerable taxes from company tax, paye and gst.

    And you think we’ve only earned $2.4b in over 150 years – unbeleivable!.

  11. Where on earth do you get your figures from photon? Here’s what your beloved National party says:

    Between 2001 and 2011, there were 33 fatalities in the commercial fishing sector.

    There’s approximately 26,620 full time equivalent jobs (Ministry of Fisheries, 2007), which calculates at 0.1% deaths of fishermen over the last ten years.

    With approximately 6000 full time equivalent mining jobs and 29 deaths in the last ten years that’s a percentage of 0.48%. So technically mining is a more dangerous occupation.

    The fishing industry returns around $2 billion to the GDP each and every year, while the mining industry has only returned approximately $2.4 billion since mining began in New Zealand.

    Not only are there statistically more deaths in the mining industry, it doesn’t provide all that much to the economy, it contributes to global warming, destroys the environment and impacts on our profitable clean and green image.

    Windmills are a serious alternative to fossil fuels… You’re showing your ignorance to think otherwise photon.

  12. jacakl says “There has been 111 mining deaths this century in an industry that only employs around 6,000.”

    With the same number of workers, forestry has been having 100 workplace deaths EVERY DECADE for most of the last century. Today it is still 50.

    Commercial fishing has a similar number of deaths, with far fewer employees(but only 2500 full time employees).

    Unfortunately you’ve gone all anal to the point you actually think the windmill debate is serious.

  13. photon

    But not as dangerous as much of our manufacturing, farming, forestry, meat processing, and fishing industries.

    Statistically speaking mining in New Zealand is still a very dangerous occupation. There has been 111 mining deaths this century in an industry that only employs around 6,000.

    Huntly mine accident in 1914, 43 coal miners were killed in an explosion.

    In 1926 an explosion at the Dobson coal mine on the West Coast killed nine miners.

    In 1939 11 men were asphyxiated by carbon monoxide at the Glen Afton coal mine, Huntly.

    In January 1967 an explosion at the Strongman mine claimed 19 lives.

    The explosion at Pike River, which killed 29 men, clearly shows that the industry has not improved enough and therefore cannot be categorized as safe… It was the same type of accident after all that they were having a hundred years ago.

    You even learnt to get the sylables in order after the a while.

    Syllables is spelt with two l’s btw. If you’re going to be condescending towards SPC, at least try to spell and formulate your own sentences properly photon.

    I’m not argueing about the dangers of windmills – I merely came chanced across an obscure list that provided Jackal with an answer to his obscure question. No need to take it seriously.

    You’re comparing all sorts of occupations with mining in a vain attempt to try and prove it’s safe. It’s not. If we invested into clean technologies, we wouldn’t need so much of the most dangerous type of mining. It would be better for our health, worker safety, the economy and the environment. That’s why it’s relevant photon.

    Yes – Here’s a list of 46 people who have recently been been killed or seriously injured while working on windmills.

    That 46 apparently killed or seriously injured while “working” on windmills over a period of seven years compares with the approximately 12,000 mining deaths each year how exactly?

    Hint – the 46 is the number of articles, not the number of victims.

    Thanks for pointing that out Trevor and the fact that most of those examples are tenuous at best.

    Clearly photon presented the list of windmill accidents seriously because he still thinks nobody will checks the facts. He doesn’t seem to realise that such disingenuous debating doesn’t do his credibility any favours.

  14. Trevor – I’m not argueing about the dangers of windmills – I merely came chanced across an obscure list that provided Jackal with an answer to his obscure question. No need to take it seriously.

    SPC – Hundreds of billions of extra dollars from mining comes into the Australian economy and
    – is spent across ALL sectors
    – fills superannuation funds
    – pays dividends to millions of people (43% of Australian adults own shares, compared to less than 10% in NZ)
    etc
    etc
    etc

    If you can’t understand that billions of extra dollars coming into a country and spread across the whole economy contribute significantly to that whole economy – then your economic understanding is abysmal.

  15. photonz, yet more obfuscation – questioning whether mining was “the” reason that Oz had higher wages (across the board) is unrelated to the issue of its impact in some areas of the economy. It has no connection as to why staff, who would not work in mining (or related industry), receive higher wages.

    And that the country has more wealth means nothing, local food prices are cheaper in Oz because of supermarket competition, but checkout staff still get paid more than here. You think their unions may have something to do with that?

    You are simply peddling the simplistic nonsense that we would all get higher wages if we support the government line on opening more mines in areas – areas where many of us have reluctance to allow it.

  16. Photonz1 said “Yes – Here’s a list of 46 people who have recently been been killed or seriously injured while working on windmills.”

    …and provides multiple reports of the same accident, a report of a car hitting a trailer carrying a windmill blade, several drownings and an accident where a worker fell down a manhole. That is really stretching the definition of “while working on windmills” even if the drownings occurred while working on the subsurface structure of an offshore wind farm. There is even a report of an accident where a plane hit a meteorological tower, which may or may not have been involved in collecting data for a possible wind farm, an electric shock received by a worker on a solar plant, and a death during a protest in Mexico.

    Hint – the 46 is the number of articles, not the number of victims.

    Trevor.

  17. SPC – So you really think if Australia loses half it’s exports, it won’t make any difference to the economy, and people will still earn the same wages?

    Really?

    Why bother exporting at all if it doesn’t make any difference?

    SPC says “A lot of exports from here are dairy – but this in no way speaks for why the wage level of supermarket staff here is lower than in Sydney.”

    A major difference in wages is because of exchange rates. And the prime reason the A$ is worth much more than the NZ$ is because it is in demand as countries need A$ to buy Australia’s minerals.

    It’s blatantly obvious that mining increases Australian wages in several ways –
    – exchange rates
    – very high wages to those in the industry
    – supports many additional industries – engineering, construction, roading, rail, ports, shipping, supermarkets, airlines, vehicle and manchinery sales and manufacture – and that’s just the companies. There’s also the downstream spend right across the economy from the very highly paid workers.
    – sucks in workers so there are skill shortages elsewhere which drives up wages – see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12983689
    – the investments of millions of Australians increase so they are wealthier, and can afford to spend more.
    – the super retirement funds of nearly every Australian worker means they are all wealthier when they retire, and can afford to spend more in every part of the economy.
    – billions also get paid in dividends to millions of Australians, who then spend it in their economy, or resinvest in Austrlian companies.

    I talked to a guy last year who was building just one pipeline in Queensland, and he needed to find new 8000 workers for construction.

    And you can’t see how mining could have any effect on wages in Australia. Astonishing.

  18. Check the spelling of syllable.

    I wrote “Why the obscufication of his point about the temporary and distorting presence of short term industry?”, then in a separate post “Or the fact that most in the industry go to where the jobs are and are not local in origin?”

    Clearly general comments apart from the debate you were having on the West Coast industry with someone who lived there.

    And more obfuscation – I wrote “no other industry is premised on the life cycle of a temporary resource” – mining is an always temporary activity at any location that occurs till the mine closes down.

    Instead of acknowledging this as true you pointlessly comment that minerals are used in the rest of the economy, as if this was some riposte or negation.

    I asked “You say that Oz mining underpins the higher wages of Oz – do you have any economic study that comes to this conclusion? Sure demand for mining staff means high wages for those who can do that work (and for living in isolated regions), but why does this result in higher wages for someone working in a supermarket in Sydney than here?”

    You say – Yes – TV One News tonight reported that 55% of Australias total exports come from mining.

    This is your evidence? A lot of exports from here are dairy – but this in no way speaks for why the wage level of supermarket staff here is lower than in Sydney.

  19. Jackal says “..mining is still a very dangerous occupation. ”

    But not as dangerous as much of our manufacturing, farming, forestry, meat processing, and fishing industries.

    Jackal says “Could you tell me how many people have died building windmills?

    Yes – Here’s a list of 46 people who have recently been been killed or seriously injured while working on windmills.
    http://www.windaction.org/news/c49/

  20. SPC says “Photonz – more obfuscation ”

    So you’re repeatedly showing us you’ve learnt a big new word that you like to use.

    You even learnt to get the sylables in order after the a while.

    Next task is to learn the meaning.

    SPC says “First I wrote this – that most in the industry go to where the jobs are and are not local in origin, I did not make any claim as to whether most miners in the West Coast were or were not locals as you falsely claim.”

    So in the middle of a discussion about how many miners on the West Coast are local, you said most are not, and now you expect people to believe you were talking about miners in some other country?

    SPC says ” no other industry is premised on the life cycle of a temporary resource.”

    What about the oil industry, therefore all transport industry, anything in the manufacturing indsutry that uses any sort of plastic or metal (i.e. everything), anything in the building industry that uses steel, concrete, bitumen, etc, every single thing that’s electrical etc.

    Do you not realise that mining or drilling is the source of just about every consumer product you buy? And most of the food you buy is produced or transported by machines that only exist because of mining and drilling.

    SPC says “You say that Oz mining underpins the higher wages of Oz – do you have any economic study that comes to this conclusion? ”

    Yes – TV One News tonight reported that 55% of Australias total exports come from mining.

  21. However you want to work the figures photon, mining is still a very dangerous occupation. Could you tell me how many people have died building windmills?

  22. Photonz – more obfuscation and the straw man now as well.

    First I wrote this – that most in the industry go to where the jobs are and are not local in origin, I did not make any claim as to whether most miners in the West Coast were or were not locals as you falsely claim. Whether most workers are local or not depends on the extent of the increase in workforce required with the most recently opened mine/mines.

    Most mining us done in unpopulated areas that require labour to come in. This means that the economy of the region is put into a boom bust cycle. Generally only regions that carry unemployment can cope with temporary labour requirements of a new mine.

    Your statement that mining is similar to other economic activity is wrong
    – no other industry is premised on the life cycle of a temporary resource.
    Very few townships come into existence for one purpose as for mining – one
    of the few legitimate parallels would be the workforce to build a dam or the workforce increase required with a city rebuild. To a lesser degree making a film in an isolated region location (not a film studio industry at a more central place).

    As for the total economy benefiting from the temporary boost to the local region, this depends on things such as level of mining royalty or whether the government owns the mining company – this speaks to the topic of retaining asset ownership.

    The other points are whether the workers who make the wages then stay and spend in the national econommy or go to another country. And whether a resource exploitation boom impacts negatively on the wider economy via inflation or currency revaluation – that makes the rest of the economy uncompetitive.

    When one factors in Kyoto obligations/costs, a slower controlled mining industry is better for the longer term economy.

    You say that Oz mining underpins the higher wages of Oz – do you have any economic study that comes to this conclusion? Sure demand for mining staff means high wages for those who can do that work (and for living in isolated regions), but why does this result in higher wages for someone working in a supermarket in Sydney than here?

  23. Jackal – you take the large number of deaths in numerous mining disasters over a century ago, to try to give an assessment of mining dangers today.

    Would we add the shipwreck disasters from sailing ships in the 1800s to give an assessment on shipping dangers in 2012?

    Even when you take 388 deaths over more than 150 years, the average deaths from mining is a little over 2 a year.

    However in the decade before the Pike River tragedy, mine workplace deaths had been reduced to an average of 1 a year (there were 10 mining deaths between 2000-2009).

    Forestry with similar numbers of workers, has nearly halved it’s workplace deaths, particularly when drug testing was introduced. However it’s still running at 5 deaths a year.

    Commercial fishing (with just 2500 full time workers) has an average of 9 deaths per year.

    Today, in 2012, ACC calculates premiums based on risk for mining, that are less than half of those of farming, forestry, fishing, etc.

    If you are going to lecture on whats statistically wrong about assessing mining risks in 2012…..don’t use mining deaths from the 1800s.

  24. photon

    Actually the are several industries that have had more workplace deaths than mining in the last decade.

    Mining employs about 6,000 people and 388 People have died in mining accidents/disasters in New Zealand. That works out to be 6.5% of the workforce.

    Agriculture employs more than 114,000 people and around 7,000 people work in forestry… 0.2% of the workforce.

    Worldwide, mining disasters account for an estimated 12,000 deaths each year. It’s one of the most dangerous jobs.

    Not only are you morally wrong, you are statistically wrong as well photon.

  25. Shunda – you raise several dilemas and contradictions.

    You’ve argued that mining does not play such a large part of the West Coast economy, then you said it underpins it.

    You want to reduce mining, then complain about job loses.

    You want to diversify, and reduce the reliance on a major industry, with a plan that REDUCES diversification and relying EVEN MORE a single industry (tourism) – the exact opposite of what you want to achieve.

    You say it’s not fair that coasters get no royalties from mining, yet South Islanders get no royalties from hydro power generation, Taranaki gets no royalties from oil, Otago and Coromandel get no royalties from gold, coastal regions get no royalties from fishing, Rotorua gets no royalties from steam, Queenstown gets no royalties from tourism etc etc.

    There are currently claims to get royalties from the use of water, and today I read there are now claims on royalties from wind.

    It’s a messy road to go down.

    And your war comparison is just silly and makes no sense at all.

    The West Coast has certainly paid a high price with mining disasters both recently, and a century ago. Yet other places with that have significant mining have not had disasters.

    A good way to compare relative dangers of professions is to see how ACC compares them. The risk premiums they charge for coal mining and gold mining are not even half that of fishing, forestry, or meat processing, and significantly lower than many types of manufacturing and significantly lower than dairy farming, sheep, beef or pig farming etc, but a little ahead of orchard workers.

  26. Actually the are several industries that have had more workplace deaths than mining in the last decade

    Are you serious? You seriously think using statistics covering the whole nation is equivalent to the cost to a community of 8-10 000?

    By your logic both World wars cost NZ very little, try saying that on ANZAC day.

    You also make a false assumption that I am completely anti mining, I’m not, but I am anti ‘religious devotion’ to mining, I am anti irrational planning, and I am completely opposed to people pushing an unsustainable reality for the community I live in.

    You seem to be forgetting that Pike River just blew up and Spring creek shed 300 staff, are you suggesting West Casters just take it on the chin in an act of blind loyalty to an industry that periodically screws us over to an astonishing degree?

    Coasters get no royalty from any coal or gold won from their territory, is that fair photonz?

    Recent events have conclusively proven the foolishness on relying on extractive industry to underpin a local economy, it is a fickle industry at best and it is time we planned for a more sustainable future.

  27. Shunda says “I challenge you to find another industry in NZ that has such a human price attached… ”

    Actually the are several industries that have had more workplace deaths than mining in the last decade
    – agriculture and forestry 230
    – construction 87
    – transport and storage 48
    – manufacturing 46
    – tourism 44

    Fishing would be one of the higher ones too, but is not under DOL statistics (there’s a fair few fishermens names on the memorial at the end of the breakwater in Greymouth) Even with the Pike River disaster, mining had 39 workplace deaths over the decade. That’s obviously 39 too many.

    The difference the hundreds of workplace deaths in other industries go largely unnoticed as they happen in lots of less significant accidents.

    Shunda says “Mining has had its day.”

    Get real. For that to happen you and the world overnight would have to stop buying cars, electronics, – pretty much every consummer product.

    How are the tourists going to get to the West Coast if there’s no coal to make the power and smelt the metals that will build the planes and vehicles to get them there?

    Because whether you like it or not, pretty much EVERY other industry relies on some sort of machinery, transport etc – that would not exist without mining and drilling.

  28. Photonz, do you realise that the population of the West Coast was more than 60 000 back in the 1960’s? it is now less than half what it used to be.
    Many “born and bred” Coasters abandoned the place 50 years ago and never returned.
    Where else has that happened in NZ? what are those communities like now?

    Do you know what this does to a town? the infrastructure? community cohesion?
    Greymouth only started to recover after the floodwall was built in the 1990’s and the tourism industry kicked off.

    Tourism saved the Westcoast, and that is a fact. You may be correct about mining having a presence here from the get go, but what you don’t understand is the blood and tears, depression , anxiety, grief and despair this industry has thrown at these communities. I can tell you from first hand experience that these scars run very deep, there is nothing good about it, it simply breeds hopelessness.

    And that is how the Pike river families now feel, utterly hopeless, their men will likely never receive a dignified burial. If you want to know how they feel about the industry, go and read the poem they wrote and set in stone at their personal memorial at Atarau near the mine access road, it says it all.

    Tony Kokshorn is about to build the third memorial to the mining industry in the town centre, it will have more than 380 names on it, all of them killed at work in a mine, I challenge you to find another industry in NZ that has such a human price attached and especially a price paid by such a small community.

    Mining may have been on the Coast for a long time, but it is rarely a reliable earner for more than 10 years at a time. There will often be a 10 year hiatus (or longer) before the next boom and 10 years is way too long to ‘carry over’ and wait for things to improve.

    The uncertainty is what kills this place and stops long term planning, coincidentally, the council discussed a 30 year plan for our communities recently and the two oldest Councillors simply scoffed at the idea as “pie in the sky nonsense” and refused to endorse it.

    This is typical of communities with an extractive mind set, nothing is ever planned more than 5 mins ahead.

    But the place is still here 150 years later and it is time to change, thankfully, there are new people coming forward that appreciate the natural beauty and sustainable potential of the region.

    Mining has had its day, had its share of grief and heartache, this magnificent region deserves to be defined by the beauty of it’s landscape, the resilience of it’s people, and it’s intrinsic value to all NZers.

    And I for one am going to do my best to make that happen.

  29. SPC’s post translated without ob-scoobydoo-fication “Yes, I claimed “most” miners come from elsewhere, and no – I haven’t got a shred of evidence to back that up”.

    If “most” mine workers come from elsewhere, it is tragically bad luck for the West Coast that the Pike River victims are predominently local.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pike_River_Mine_disaster#Identity_of_the_victims

    SPC says “This has a boom bust element and makes for economic instability.”

    What a silly statement. The WHOLE economy is cyclic. If you canned every industry that is cyclic you’d dump pretty much EVERYTHING – dairy farming, manufacturing, fishing, forestry, building, sheep farming, publishing, film production, music industry, kiwifruit industry, orchards, tourism etc.

    Many of the multi-generational West Coast families descend from people who came to the West Coast for mining jobs – EXACTLY the type of people who you now try to claim are no good for the region.

    And the industry you’d dump because it is cyclic, is the prime reason Australia has become economically stronger (with higher wages) than NZ over several decades.

  30. Once again, stop with the obscufication.

    None of the mines have been operating 150 years. Mining jobs come and go and miners come in from elsewhere and then go again (outside the West Coast to work – Oz and Christchurch this time).

    This has a boom bust element and makes for economic instability.

    It was you who claimed that only a few miners on the Coast were not born locally (11.44pm) – with nothing to back it up.

    I simply said that most in the industry go to where the jobs are and are not local in origin. This is simply a truism about mining everywhere.

  31. SPC says “Why the obscufication of his point about the temporary and distorting presence of short term industry?”

    Gold and coal have been mined on the West Coast for over 150 years (and pounamu for hundreds of years before that).

    Far from being “short term” – they are probably just about the LONGEST TERM you can get for any continually running industry, of any type, anywhere in NZ.

  32. SPC claims “Or the fact that most in the industry go to where the jobs are and are not local in origin?”

    Do you have ANYTHING to back your claim up that “most” are not local?

    Or did you just make it up?

    Shunda says “it’s the cyclical nature of the international minerals industry that is wearing this community out ”

    Cyclical – you mean like most West Coast industries – tourism, dairying, fishing, manufacturing etc.

    Shunda says “with a one stop shop approach to the regional economy.”

    How can mining be a “one stop shop” when you and Kevin have been trying to tell us tourism is the bigger industry?

  33. According to the Berl report done for Deveolpment West coast “Tourism is the third major productive sector in the Region”

    From when to when?

    Besides, I think your arguement that some miners are not local is irrelevant. Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Dunedin, New Plymouth, Invercargill, all have significant numbers of workers who are not from there, and will probably not stay more than a few years.

    So what? It’s all relevant to the number in that position, the stability of those industries, the number of industries in operation and the size of the local economy. The West Coast only has 30 000 people from top to bottom.

    While the work is there, they pay rent, they buy food from the local supermarket, drink at the local pub, get their car repairs done at the local garage, buy their clothes from the local shops, eat at the local restaurants, etc. They help the local economy.

    Yeah, and when they leave we add Greymouth and Westport to the rest of the ghost towns on the West Coast.

    I think putting an indsutry down because a few of the people who work in it weren’t born locally is not helpful, and more than a little xenophobic.

    Where they were born has nothing to do with it, it’s the cyclical nature of the international minerals industry that is wearing this community out and has a tremendous cost that can’t be measured only in dollars and cents.

    If the West Coast was some outback mining town in Australia, you would have a point, once the mine closes, people leave and the town is no more.

    But the West Coast has more going for it than the fickle international minerals trade and I am sick to death of local politicians and industry leaders suppressing this fact.

    Use mining while we can, but for crying out loud, when the hell are we going to learn that there is a tremendous price to pay with a one stop shop approach to the regional economy. We have other extremely viable options, we are not in the Australian outback (as much as some locals would like to believe).

  34. Maybe you could respond to what was said.

    This was “photonz, the data you displayed is highly suspect, minerals West Coast would have provided them with those figures and they are widely regarded here as bullshit (which isn’t surprising when you know who is involved).”

    He did not say they were your figures, he was questioning who supplied the original figures. The same applies to the BERL report if it is a reference to the same information.

    Why the obscufication of his point about the temporary and distorting presence of short term industry?

  35. Shunda says “By the way photonz, the data you displayed is highly suspect, ”

    It’s not my info – It’s from Tourism West Coast and Development West Coast.

    Shunda says “Tourism has been the most reliable earner for the Coast for quite some time:

    According to the Berl report done for Deveolpment West coast “Tourism is the third major productive sector in the Region”

    Besides, I think your arguement that some miners are not local is irrelevant. Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Dunedin, New Plymouth, Invercargill, all have significant numbers of workers who are not from there, and will probably not stay more than a few years.

    While the work is there, they pay rent, they buy food from the local supermarket, drink at the local pub, get their car repairs done at the local garage, buy their clothes from the local shops, eat at the local restaurants, etc. They help the local economy.

    I think putting an indsutry down because a few of the people who work in it weren’t born locally is not helpful, and more than a little xenophobic.

  36. But the problem is for the Coast is so much of their land is locked up in conservation estate.

    Yeah, if only we could use all those 45 degree slopes for something productive.

    The rest of the land is “locked up” for good reason, namely, certain individuals would permanently destroy the place looking for ‘treasure’, make a fortune digging it up, and retire to the Gold Coast (pun intended).

    The West Coast actually already has most of the suitable lowland areas in production, the remaining land is of immense value to all of NZ and for all NZers, it also earns Coasters a shitload of money from people keen to visit.

  37. Are you planning to win a lot of votes from your community by telling Pike River and Spring Creek families that many of them are just interlopers so they’re no great loss to the community if they move elsewhere?

    Who said they’re interlopers? But in saying that, many of them aren’t here for the long haul, have no connection to the Coast and no intention to invest in the local community beyond their immediate needs. Welcome to the international minerals trade.

    This is all fine and dandy while the boom is in progress, but as soon as the bust hits they leave and the communities struggle, and often really struggle.

    You may find it strange photonz, but I have quite a few friends that are born and bred Coasters that come from mining families that encouraged them to not go near a coal mine. The “born and bred” miner is mostly a thing of the past, most of them are from unrelated trades or young and unskilled and are lured into it by a starting rate of close to 80 grand a year.

    A good deal of the miners are not even from NZ at all, there are a heap of South Africans and people from the UK as well.

    Like I said, the people that come here,love the place and want to put their roots down are great additions to the community and I hope they can find a way to stay, but the rest will simply move on and follow the money.

    Once again, welcome to the international minerals trade.

    By the way photonz, the data you displayed is highly suspect, minerals West Coast would have provided them with those figures and they are widely regarded here as bullshit (which isn’t surprising when you know who is involved).

    Tourism has been the most reliable earner for the Coast for quite some time (until the Christchurch earthquake), agriculture is growing too.

  38. Kevin – Easy to shoot down claims that no one has made “Mining is not the biggest industry on the Coast. Tourism is. Solid Energy is not the biggest employer on the Coast. The DHB is.”

    However on looking at the website put togther by Tourism West Coast and Development West Coast, it says
    – 1200 direct and indirect West Coast job come from tourism
    – 4160 direct and indirect jobs come from mining

    – $87m is contributed to the local economy from tourism.
    – $550m is contributed to the local economy from mining.

    Are you planning to win a lot of votes from your community by telling Pike River and Spring Creek families that many of them are just interlopers so they’re no great loss to the community if they move elsewhere?

  39. Well isn’t that convenient. Hands up everyone who thought like me that the Greens would be overjoyed at the mine being closed. Did that same argument apply to native forest logging I wonder.

    But the problem is for the Coast is so much of their land is locked up in conservation estate.

    Also there is no proof it is happening because of asset sales – coal demand has fallen worldwide.

  40. Um Photonz, both Shunda and I DO live on the West Coast, and I think we are both well placed to comment. I don’t think you do (?) Mining is not the biggest industry on the Coast. Tourism is. Solid Energy is not the biggest employer on the Coast . The DHB is.

    Nonetheless it is a significant industry, and it’s particular strength is that the wages it pays are much higher than average. As Shunda says, many of these are paid to people who are only temporarily in our community.

    What frustrates me is that I have been calling for years for our councils, and Development West Coast, to invest in transition to a more diverse economy. Instead they have assumed the future will be the same as the past, dooming their strategies to failure, at great human cost.

  41. Shunda says “Mining also tends to bring in people that rarely put their roots down or invest in the town they live in, this creates a whole host of problems in itself.”

    What nonsense. Most of the miners are born and bred West Coasters, many of whose fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers were miners.

    Like it or not, the economy of the West Coast is pretty much built on mining and would be stuffed without it.

    YOU might be sick of the grief from mining, but the actual people who live there and put food on the table because of it, might disapprove of you taking that food off their table.

  42. SPC – w.r.t. Jeanette’s article – Huntly could be kept in reserve burning charcoal rather than coal or gas. Also around the world, aluminium smelters routinely use off-peak power, reducing their power consumption during the rest of the day. It would make sense for at least one of the pot lines at Tiwai Point to have this capability.

    Trevor.

  43. I for one am sick of the scars mining brings to the West Coast, both physical and emotional.

    Coal mining has been the single largest reason for depression, uncertainty, grief and despair in Greymouth for the last 2 years.

    Mining has always been hard on West Coast communities due to the boom and bust nature of the industry, it irritates me that certain leaders here think the next boom will be different. As a result, our communities are never properly invested in or allowed to transition to a more sustainable future.

    Mining also tends to bring in people that rarely put their roots down or invest in the town they live in, this creates a whole host of problems in itself.

    I really feel for the coast families that want to stay here but will struggle to find work, as these people are usually a great addition to the community. Other miners less committed to living here will do just fine, there are plenty of jobs in Australia for underground miners and the lifestyle over there often suits them better anyway.

    There are huge negatives to underpinning the regional economy on mining, it’s about time we started future proofing our communities on the Coast and finding a cure for coal/gold fever.

  44. It’s actually DOUBLE hypocrisy.

    A government was selling 49% of an asset, and there wasn’t a whisper of protest from the Greens.

    The asset was SPRING CREEK MINE.
    The investor was a foreign company.

    Perhaps the reason the Greens were silent was because it was a labour govt doing the selling.

    There’s sudden faux concern about Spring Creek being privatised …only now???

  45. While the Green Party is opposed to the development of new coal mines, because of their impact on the environment and climate change, our policy is not to close existing mines. We are okay with existing mines continuing to allow time for the careful planning and transitioning to new jobs and new technologies. Solid Energy’s sudden decision to close the mine is the opposite of what we need to be doing to ensure a viable economic future for the coast.

    Quite the opposite of hypocrisy.

  46. After campaigning strongly against coal mining, the Greens expect us to beleive thay are genuine when complaining about an unprofitable mine closing down?

    If anyone ever needs a definition of hypocrisy….

  47. Are you suggesting that the Green Party would instead be injecting public money into unprofitable mines, such as Spring Creek, in order to keep the workers jobs going?.

  48. I’m sorry but you’re argument that the closure is down to the sale of SOEs sounds like complete bull.I’m no economist but surely the global down turn in coal prices may have had something to do with it. The effects of this down turn have been felt across mines globally, unless of course NZ exists in some alternate universe bubble.
    I do feel for the miners and their families and hope resources are pushed toward developing other industries, but feel free to you their plight as oportunist political capital.

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