If you live in a 70m2 Auckland apartment, then a hectare seems like a lot of space, 140 times larger than your apartment, in fact. Multiply that again by 700 and you have the size of the 'vast' Stockton mine near Westport.
Yes it is true. The Stockton mine is a full 100,000 times larger than your apartment. If you were to turn your apartment into an open cast mine – a 'vast, 70m2 scar of denuded rock and soil' in the words of the Listener's latest enviro-polemic, would the environmental high priestess liken it to Mordor, from Lord of the Rings.
[Possibly she would. But then Jeanette Fitzsimons has never been to Mordor. Perhaps we should ask the hobbits for their opinion? From what I saw in the movie, Mordor is considerably larger than Stockton, perhaps similar in size to the West Coast. There was also a weird red glow and lots of molten lava. The other point is the vast numbers of hobgoblins and orcs which were wandering around Mordor at the time. No one could mistake those for Coasters. Still we don't know who Jeanette took with here when she visited. Ten years cooped up in a tiny apartment can change facial features markedly, I've been told.]
So let's look at it from another point of view. The area of New Zealand is about 26,868,000 hectares, so we could handle another 380 Stocktons before 1% of our land was devoted to mining. Some 30% of our land is administered by DOC as reserves, around 8 million hectares. This land holds the equivalent of over 11,000 Stocktons.
The Stockton mine is about the area of decent-sized farm, perhaps a little larger. Except this farm produces about half a billion dollars in revenue every year and employs 400 staff. Does the whole country have to be one great big environmentalist haven? Can't we just have 1% of the land area devoted to mining? That would be
about 380 Stocktons and around another 200 billion a year into our economy. We talk about a dairy boom but it should be obvious that a mining boom would be much bigger.
We obviously need more mines.