In an interview with The New Zealand Herald Monday, Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley said, "We're going to make significant changes to the Crown Minerals Act because conversations to date under previous ministers have found that there are opportunities to improve the way that companies can access our minerals, apply for opportunities to explore, that type of thing."
A consultation paper will be released early this year to inform the government on potential changes to the act. Last month, the New Zealand government announced it will change public notification legislation under the act this year.
Previously, the government has indicated it wishes to open more land up to "environmentally responsible mining." However, in 2010, the National Party-led government backed off plans to open up designated conservation land to mineral exploration after strong public protests against the proposal.
New Zealand Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has indicated that reshaping the public's view of mining was critical because mining is important to creating jobs.
"Maybe I can help make sure there is an understanding that every time we stop something there are less jobs. You can't argue for more jobs then turn around and stop everything. As a country we have to get our head round that a little bit more and understand those tradeoffs," he said.
Heatley told the Herald that although the government planned "to get the best out of natural resources" to create jobs and improve the economy, "we're very, very conscious of our environmental obligations."
The CEO of the Straterra mining group, Chris Baker, told the Herald that the country needs a competitive regulatory regime in order to attract mining industry investment.
"There's no question that a number of potential investors would say we are not competitive, so there needs to be changes that make the process. . .transparent, understandable and deliverable," Baker said.
Dorothy Kosich, Mineweb