The former public relations manager at Newmont Gold, Sefton Darby, is going to start a new job as national manager for minerals at New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals – an arm of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
In my opinion this is a considerable conflict of interest. While working for Newmont Mr Darby has had a leading role in promoting their activities both in Waihi and across the Thames-Coromandel region. He has been a loyal advocate for this giant multinational.
His new job with the Government will be to regulate New Zealand’s mineral sector including permit allocation and finding ways to grow the sector. This will work perfectly for Newmont Gold who are attempting to expand their exploration and mining activities and currently have applications for permits in process and before the courts. It will also work perfectly for the Government who are determined to expand mining in New Zealand seemingly no matter what the opposition.
Mr Darby says he will avoid any conflict of interest by not “making any decisions on behalf of Government on anything related to Golden Link, full stop”. “Golden Link” is Newmont’s planned expansion into the residential area of Waihi. But what about other Newmont prospects, for as long as he is employed by Government?
He says he would not participate in any decisions regarding Newmont for the first year, but that is not very reassuring. Mining projects take years to develop.
The Government could have chosen someone in the role that worked in regulation, but no, they chose the PR person from a giant foreign-owned mining company. The Government isn’t looking out for New Zealanders with this choice.