Sustainable mining? – scientists weigh in


Hidden beneath our stunning landscapes — and formed by the same relentless geological forces — mineral resources like gold, coal, ironsands and other industrial and precious metals lie undisturbed.

strip_coal_mining3Can they be extracted with minimal damage to their surroundings, as some claim? What do improvements in mine engineering and design over recent decades have to offer? What do real-world examples show?

Since first announced last August, the proposal to open some of New Zealand’s high-value conservation land to mining has generated substantial controversy.

Public submissions on the issue were initially due to close on 4 May, but have just been granted a 3-week extension while the government consults with iwi and other stakeholders. Over 14,000 submissions have been lodged so far.

In this SMC online briefing, a panel of scientists and researchers attempt to cut through the buzzwords and slogans to answer journalists’ questions on mining techniques, environmental and economic impacts of mines.


Prof Dave Craw – Geology, University of Otago

Dr Dave Craw is a geologist with research interests in the field of mineral deposits, particularly gold, and environmental issues related to mining. He runs a programme on environmental effects of mining which is currently focusing on heavy metal mobility in historical mine sites and shallow groundwater. He has worked extensively on conservation land in New Zealand.

Dr Gavin Mudd – Lecturer in Environmental Engineering, Monash University

Dr Gavin Mudd joined Monash University in May 2003. In 2009, he was a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Auckland, examining issues associated with mining on conservation land. His research interests include sustainable mining, environmental management and impacts associated in mining, and rehabilitation of mine wastes.

Prof Anton Meister – Resource and Environmental Economics, Massey University

Dr Anton Meister’s diverse research interests are focused on environmental policies and natural resource issues (e.g. fishery management, sustainable land management, the allocation of water, carbon trading, etc.) in both developed and developing countries. His research examines the role of benefit-cost analysis and non-market valuation in evaluating policies and programmes.


Part 1: [audio:]

Part 2: [audio:]

Presenters’ slides are available for registered journalists to download from the SMC Resource Library.