Nick explains why K1 must be stopped

27 Jun

“We’re here to scope out the area, with a view to being here in the future when coal is mined. To put our bodies in the way of coal being mined.” – Nick on Auckland Coal Action’s inspection of the K1 mine near Maramarua.



Kopako 1 mine inspection

26 Jun

Images from Auckland Coal Action’s inspection of the Kopako 1 mine, near Maramarua.

Activists carry out Waikato coal mine inspection, leave climate message

26 Jun

Press release – Sunday 26 June 2016

A group of eight activists from Auckland Coal Action, many of them grandparents, today carried out an inspection of Solid Energy’s Kopako 1 coal mine in the Waikato to protest its redevelopment, and left a climate change message for the company.

The mine, near Maramarua, in North East Waikato, has been dormant since the 1990’s, but Solid Energy has now begun work to revive it.  The team confirmed after walking into the site today that not only has overburden been removed, but coal mining from a seam has begun.

“Solid Energy is undertaking extensive development of this old coal mine, despite having no customers for the coal, and the international industry being in terminal decline,” said one of the activists, Geoff Mason of Auckland Coal Action.

“Meanwhile, the Government has signed the Paris Agreement which means that we have to get out of coal by 2050, globally, which means coal like this has to stay in the ground.

The team walked into the mine site, and spent around an hour at the coalface, wrapping a excavator in “climate crime scene” tape confirming that new mining has removed the overburden and is now digging up coal. They deployed signs and banners, before leaving again.

Among the activists who inspected the mine today was Phil, a great grandparent.

“I am seriously concerned about a climate changed future for my five great grandchildren – this is why I am here today, to tell Solid Energy and the Government to stop wasting taxpayers’ money, and keep the coal in the hole,” she said.

Auckland Coal Action is also concerned that one of the potential customers for the mine could be Fonterra, the country’s second-largest user of coal.  Fonterra was planning to open its own coal mine at nearby Mangatawhiri, but has put those plans on permanent hold.

“Solid Energy might be eyeing Fonterra as a potential customer, but Fonterra should be looking at changing its energy source to renewable wood and biomass rather than coal,” said Geoff Mason.

“What is clear is that this mine should be kept out of commission – for the climate, for the local environment and for our future.”

Photos of the day in this post.


Climate sign trail leads to Fonterra AGM

25 Nov

Shareholders arriving at Fonterra’s AGM this morning were shown the way by a trail of signs set up by Auckland Coal Action. Despite the cooperative’s byline of ‘sustainable dairying’, Fonterra has now overtaken the Huntly power station as the second largest coal user in the country and is planning on opening two huge coal boilers at Studholme in Canterbury. (Submissions close on Friday.)

ACA put up a sign trail just outside Fonterra’s private road, after having first put it up on their private road and being sent off by a security guard. However, the second spot was just as good – traffic had to pass slowly, having just crossed the railway line and needing to than make a sharp right turn.

The five signs said:

  • Biggest threat to NZ farming is climate change
  • New coal boilers at Studholme = 40 more years of coal
  • Waste wood boilers – proven technology
  • Will Fonterra gamble, with shareholders’ funds, on no carbon charge in next 40 years?
  • Fonterra decides: for sustainability, or climate destruction?

The Fonterra AGM was held at their dairy factory at Waitoa on the southern Hauraki Plains, near Matamata.

Fonterra’s coal use under the spotlight at Mystery Creek

14 Jun

Media release from Auckland Coal Action 14 June 2015

Mystery Creek field day visitors were yesterday greeted with leaflets advertising that Fonterra is about to get out of using coal to dry its milk powder.

Members of Auckland Coal Action handed out nearly 2000 fliers to Mystery Creek visitors yesterday, fliers that announced Fonterra was getting out of coal and switching to the “fuel of the future” – woodchips – instead, and had small bags of woodchips attached.   They invited people to ask Fonterra about their fuel for drying milk powder.

Spokesperson Jeanette Fitzsimons said ” If New Zealand is to do its fair share on climate change, Fonterra just has to stop burning coal. We wanted people interested in farming to see that there is an alternative. For two years we’ve been trying to have a conversation with Fonterra to get away from coal – and they’re not listening, so today we thought we’d try another way of starting that conversation.”

Fonterra uses more than half a million tonnes of coal a year to dry milk powder, and this total is growing as it builds new plants. At the same time NZ farmers are being devastated by severe droughts yet climate change has only just started to make itself felt.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to our farming future, medium and long term” said Fitzsimons.

Residues left on forest landing sites after harvesting trees can be chipped and partly dried and used as boiler fuel. There are companies willing to do this and it happens on a smaller scale – for example at Otago University and some schools. There are companies that will source, collect, process and deliver to markets. We know Fonterra has been in touch with them but nothing has happened because coal is so cheap.

Coal is the biggest contributor to climate change, worldwide. “Coal is cheap because it doesn’t have to pay for the environmental and health damage it does” said Fitzsimons. “It is effectively subsidised by the environment, and in the end by all of us”.

“Meanwhile New Zealand’s domestic coal use is being driven by Fonterra, which has signed huge contracts with Bathurst Resources, and Solid Energy.”

Fonterra was sufficiently worried about its reputation that Security Services and police were called to remove the leafleters, not just from the Fielddays site, but from the public roads surrounding it.

Auckland Coal Action is committed to phasing out coal to protect the climate, in a way that allows workers and communities to develop alternative forms of economic development. It has never advocated for the closure of any existing mine.

Contact: Jeanette Fitzsimons Auckland Coal Action 07 868 6641


Your days of burning coal are numbered few

14 Jun

A tongue-in-cheek poem inspired by yesterday’s action.

The plucky band of offbeats stand before
the wondrous fair that farmers are drawn to,
to tell Fonterra – ever seeking more,
their days of burning coal are numbered few.
Not shamed enough by countless herds of cows
which munch grass, ruminate, and belch methane;
the bosses tally dollars, and welsh on vows
to ease the burden of our climate’s pain.
In step the plucky offbeats bearing fliers,
to tell the masses ’bout Fonterra true,
to play the role of yesteryears’ town criers,
since mainstream media stories give no clue.
Or maybe really play the role of jester,
instead of letting unkept promise fester

Exciting announcement from Fonterra at Field Days

13 Jun

Happening now: Visitors to the Mystery Creek Fielddays are being greeted today with 2,000 fliers announcing Fonterra’s plan to convert all its coal fired boilers to run on “fuel for the future” – wood chip. The material is waste from forestry operations and there are huge quantities in NZ forests which can be harvested, dried and chipped creating hundreds of jobs. Each flier is attached to a small bag of wood chip.

If New Zealand is to do its fair share on climate Fonterra must stop burning coal, the biggest contributor to climate change. Auckland Coal Action has been trying to have a conversation with Fonterra about cleaning up its boilers but so far they are not listening. We hope Fielddays visitors will have that conversation too, at the Fonterra tent.

Watch this site for developments during the day!

Fonterra fuel for the future