New Bill to amend Crown Minerals Act

Wednesday 26 September 2012, 6:09PM
By Phil Heatley

A new Bill to strengthen management of Crown-owned minerals passed its first reading in Parliament today.

The Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill is a key element in the Government’s commitment to promote responsible exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources.

“Oil, gas and minerals together contribute over $4 billion to New Zealand’s GDP each year. Crude oil is New Zealand’s fourth largest commodity export earner,” Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley said.

“We want to realise the economic benefits from developing our oil, gas and mineral resources safely and sensibly.

“This legislation will provide New Zealanders with greater confidence in how the Government is allocating rights to Crown-owned minerals, and how it is managing and regulating those rights,” Mr Heatley said.

“It also provides for a fair financial return to the Crown for those minerals, so that they contribute more to New Zealand’s economic development.

“At the same time, the proposals will provide certainty and clarity to the petroleum and mining industries. The Bill will streamline and simplify the permitting regime where appropriate and provide for improved co-ordination of health and safety and environmental regulation of the sector,” he said.

The Bill creates a two-tiered system for permit management so that there is a more hands-on, coordinated management and regulatory regime for the more complex, higher-return petroleum and mineral activities. Lower-return industrial rocks, small business and hobby mineral operations will be subject to a simpler and streamlined management regime.

The Bill also introduces a requirement for permit holders to report on the engagement they have undertaken with affected iwi to recognise the importance of maintaining positive working relationships at a local level.

Consultation on draft minerals programmes, which set out how the Minister and New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals will interpret and apply the Act to particular minerals, is expected to be announced shortly.

The Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill amends the Crown Minerals Act 1991.