Monthly Archives: March 2013

Solid Goes Liquid

Mataura Malt Plant
Under an Easter full moon, Solid Energy’s new venture Liquid Energy fires up, ready for the launch of Mataura Malt on 1 April.

Solid Energy’s financial woes will be alleviated somewhat with the news of a new development at its troubled Craig Road briquetting plant. The $29 million plant ran into unforeseen difficulties since its completion in June last year, and commissioning of the plant, which was intended to turn lignite into briquettes for local and export markets, has not been completed.

Solid Energy and their partner GTL Energy Ltd, which developed the briquetting technology, have formed another company, Liquid Energy Ltd. This new wholly owned NZ subsidiary will lease and run the plant for a one year period beginning 1 April, 2013, producing and distilling their “Mataura Malt” brand of Hokonui moonshine whiskey.

“Everything is still shiny and new” said Liquid Energy’s new CEO John Smith. “The plant is clean and ready to produce its first whiskey consignment. We have a promising market for the whiskey, unlike the market for briquettes, which has run into difficulties.”

“It has been a steep learning curve but we have been fortunate to draw on the expertise of the local Hokonui moonshine whiskey distillers’ fine tradition.” Smith said.

In a modern version of the traditional Scottish method, which uses water from peat bogs, Liquid Energy will use water from lignite beds. “Lignite is very close to peat in quality. We are so fortunate to already own vast resources of this fine natural water filter relatively undisturbed in the Mataura Valley.”

“Our venture will truly be a sustainable boost to the local economy” Smith said.
Solid Energy group manager of strategy and corporate affairs describes the turn of events as an exciting development

Money raised from whiskey sales will go towards covering the costs of ex CEO Don Elder’s gardening leave.

Christchurch, 6 April: CANA and Canterbury Coal Action Get-Together!

Coal Action Network Aotearoa and Canterbury Coal Action are inviting friends and supporters  to get together next Saturday night in Christchurch.

Saturday 6th April
St Nicholas Church Hall
Corner of Frankleigh and Barrington Rd

This is the chance for Canterbury anti-coal activists to network with other local activists and with the CANA National Organising Group.

Drinks and nibbles provided

Please RSVP for catering purposes to by Thurs. 4th April.

We are grateful for your koha.

Keep the Coal in the Hole Wellington: Denniston meeting, 6pm, Thursday 11 April

When: 6pm, Thursday 11 April 2013

Where: Forest and Bird offices, 90 Ghuznee Street (enter at the corner of Ghuznee and Victoria Streets), Wellington. Please bring a plate of vegetarian finger food to share.

What: An information and organising meeting on the beautiful Denniston plateau, with speeches and discussion.

The beauty of the Denniston Plateau.  Photo: Forest & Bird

The beauty of the Denniston Plateau. Photo: Forest & Bird

Kevin Hackwell, Advocacy Manager at Forest and Bird, will speak on the ecological values and beauty of this remarkable place. (See He’ll be fresh back from a trip to the plateau so will share photos, as well as update us on Forest and Bird’s campaign to protect Denniston.

Tim Jones of Coal Action Network Aotearoa will speak on climate and coal, and the broader movement against new/expanded coal mines in Aotearoa.

Followed by discussion about how we can support the campaign here in Wellington. Denniston looks to be the big coal battle for 2013 (unless we win in Court, of course!) so please come along to get inspired, get informed, and get organising.

It’d be great to have lots of people at the meeting, so please invite friends and colleagues.

If you are late and need the door unlocked, please text Tim on 027 359 0293

PS The Wellington Keep the Coal in the Hole meetings grew out of the Wellington regional group gatherings at the keep the Coal in the Hole Summer festival, January 2012. We meet every two months to educate ourselves, share information, and organise events together. Please note mining CEOs and their PR staff are not welcome.

Submit Now On Fonterra’s Proposed New Mine Near Auckland

Fonterra wants to build a new coal mine at Mangatawhiri, near Auckland, and Auckland Coal Action is working with local residents to oppose it.

Submissions on the proposed mine are now open and close on Thursday 28 March. Please make a submission using this handy submission guide:

Site of Fonterra's proposed Mangatwahiri mine

Site of Fonterra’s proposed Mangatwahiri mine

Coal is Fonterra’s dirty little secret. You can find out more about that here:

Auckland Coal Action have also created an excellent leaflet about Fonterra’s plans, which is also available for you to download.

ACA Fonterra leaflet

Getting used to the ‘new normal’

Cow in dry weather, Wairarapa.  Photo Dave Allen, NIWA

Cow in dry weather, Wairarapa. Photo Dave Allen, NIWA

As I flew up the country from Wellington to Auckland this week, on yet another beautiful day, I was struck by the colour of our country.

Brown. Burned to a crisp.  The occasional smattering of green forest, but an island suffering from its  worst drought in 70 years, as I’d heard climate scientist Jim Salinger saying on the radio that morning.

Next I’m listening to Bill English saying farmers can’t expect get the same level of support in future droughts, if they continue to happen with more frequency, as NIWA tells us they will.

Meanwhile John Key is in Brazil pleading with oil giant Petrobras to come back, and an industry-written report tells us we should drill all over the East Coast.

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Coal vs climate at Supreme Court

Press release from the West Coast Environment Network 
11 March 2013

Headline of Businessweek after Sandy hit New York - will the Supreme Court understand the important link between coal extraction and climate change?

Headline of Businessweek after Sandy hit New York – will the Supreme Court understand the important link between coal extraction and climate change?

A small West Coast environment group will face off against two large coal companies – Australian Bathurst Resources and state-owned Solid Energy – at the Supreme Court this week, arguing that climate change is relevant for coal mining consents.

“Even the companies admit that their coal will contribute to climate change,” says West Coast Environment Network spokesperson Lynley Hargreaves. “So we should be able to call evidence on it.”
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Newsletter Feb/March 2013

Coal Action Network Aotearoa Newsletter  Feb/Mar 2013

Kia Ora Koutou

Welcome to the Coal Action Network Aotearoa’s first newsletter for 2013!

As you are all very much aware, Solid Energy has gone into freefall.  Not only has CEO Don Elder resigned, but the company is now reporting a $389m debt.
But there’s a lot more going on with coal around the country, not least a new proposal by Fonterra to open a mine in the upper North Island at Mangatawhiri.

What’s in this newsletter? 

1.  Upcoming events
2.  Solid Energy’s lost CEO – and its massive debt
3.  Fonterra’s new coal mine
4.  Denniston ruling imminent
5. The Wise Response Appeal on climate change
6.  Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival
7.  What about our drought? Has it got anything to do with climate change?
8 The world hasn’t warmed?
9  International
– Australia’s “Angry Summer”
– Renewable Energy setting records everywhere
– China’s carbon tax

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Solid Energy and coal’s future? What future?

I had one of those “where were you?” moments last week. “Where were you when you heard Solid Energy had dropped their Southland lignite projects?”

I was making mid-morning toast and coffee while listening to Kathryn Ryan’s National radio interview with Mark Ford, new Chair of Solid Energy. When he mumbled that yes, Southland lignite was one of the non-core assets Solid Energy would exit, I almost dropped the black currant jam.

Mr Ford’s quiet tone made me wonder if I’d heard correctly. It must not be easy to admit that you’re going to have to cut your losses after your company made a monumental business balls-up, buying up a whole valley, dispersing the community of farmers who lived and worked there for generations, wasting $29 million of taxpayer money on the likes of a briquette plant that uses dirty lignite.

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Fonterra’s Dirty Secret

Well, it’s not that big a secret: Fonterra is the third-largest consumer of coal in New Zealand, and Fonterra keeps passing up opportunities to convert its heat plant from coal to wood. Their latest bad move – and it’s a really bad one – is their decision to build a new coal mine at Mangatawhiri in the North Waikato, near SH2 between Auckland and the Coromandel.

Fonterra’s head office is at 9 Princes St, Auckland, and Auckland Coal Action is working with Mangatawhiri residents to build opposition to the planned new mine. Today, Tuesday 5 March at 4pm, Auckland Coal Action members will be handing out special milk drinks featuring Fonterra’s secret ingredient outside Fonterra’s HQ, as reported in the Waikato Times.

On Thursday, local residents have organised a public meeting on the proposed mine. Full details and directions are available on the Auckland Coal Action site, but in brief:

WHEN: 7 pm, Thursday 7 March 2013

WHERE: Mangatawhiri Hall, cnr of Mangatawhiri and McKenzie Roads, Mangatawhiri.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

Auckland Coal Action have also created an excellent leaflet about Fonterra’s plans, which is also available for you to download.

ACA Fonterra leaflet

Here is how you can help with this campaign against Fonterra’s dirty secret: