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This morning at around 4:30 am Extinction Rebellion activists blocked access to Bathurst’s Coal mine in Canterbury.
The activists locked themselves into two vehicles across the access road which prevented any entry into the mine. In contrast, other groups of activists locked themselves inside diggers on the mine site.
The Bathurst Coal mine is currently seeking consent from the Environment Canterbury committee and the Selwyn District Council to expand the coal mine and increase its coal extraction.
New Zealand’s minerals sector industry organisation Straterra isn’t happy with the activists. They say that the activists blocking a coal mine over an expansion need a ‘reality check’.
The company has been extracting more coal than they have consent for and have breached consents numerous times in the past hence why the Extinction Rebellion has put a halt to any operations since this morning.
“The coal these protestors are targeting was, a few short months ago, part of the supply chain for ‘essential services,'” said Straterra chief executive Chris Baker.
“Coal is mined in Canterbury to meet the demand for the food processing sector, and to a lesser extent to heat schools and hospitals in the South Island where reticulated natural gas is not available.”
“This coal is mined so that businesses using it can be competitive against other global producers. If these protests were ‘successful’, export revenue and jobs would be lost, and any casual analysis would conclude that global emissions would increase.”
The Coal Mine in recent times has increased its extraction without consent. If approval does happen to take place and pass, Canteburys Bathurst’s Mine consents will jump from 20,000 tonnes to 185,000 tonnes of coal per year.
“As our farming friends repeatedly point out our agricultural sector is among the most efficient in the world, and these protestors are striking at the heart of our export-dependent economy – could the timing be worse as we address the post-COVID-19 recovery?,'” said Straterra chief executive Chris Baker.
Fonterra uses the coal from the mine to burn at Fonterra milk factories to dehydrate milk into milk powder. The Extinction Rebellion activist group says that the mine is expanding ‘to feed Fonterra’s coal addiction’.
“While Fonterra is burning coal to dry milk, they are burning the time we have to respond to the climate crisis,” said Josie Butler, part of XR’s Tangata Whenua group, Te Waka Hourua and XR Ōtautahi.
Extinction Rebellion is calling for Bathurst and the central government to work together to decommission the coal mine.
Julie Thompson, whose family farm is close to the mine, says, “It is outrageous that Bathurst is applying to expand this coal mine in the middle of a climate emergency. We need to be retiring coal mines, not expanding them.”
“We all understand the challenge to reduce emissions – but it is a global challenge, not New Zealand’s burden alone. Protests are an essential part of democracy; stopping legitimate business activity is not. I presume these protestors see coal, in New Zealand, as an easy target. That does them no credit,” Mr Baker concluded.
Image courtesy: Extinction Rebellion Christchurch