Members of the Save Happy Valley Coalition have begun an occupation of Mt. Augustus in an attempt to stop state-owned coal miner Solid Energy from continuing its activities in the area. For several months now, the coal miner has been blasting an area that is habitat to the critically endangered snail Powelliphanta Augustus and the Great Spotted Kiwi. The occupation is on Department of Conservation land but falls within the mining company's blasting exclusion zone and is aimed to force an immediate cessation of blasting activities."We aim to provide respite to the snails and kiwi that are otherwise being blasted by state owned coal miner Solid Energy. Ultimately, we work to protect the last habitat of this species, and so ensure it is not wiped off the face of the earth." (SHVC Media Release)
According to the NZ Herald, Solid Energy has rejected the claim that protesters have forced a halt to its operations, but it is unclear if they mean Stockton mine in general or Augustus in particular.
This latest action by the Save Happy Valley Coalition comes just over a week after 60 people tramped into nearby Happy Valley, also threatened by Solid Energy, to celebrate the one year anniversary of their occupation of the Valley, claimed to be the longest-running environmental occupation in Aotearoa's history. At this point, no attempts to mine Happy Valley have been made by the coal miner.
Links: Save Happy Valley Coalition | Mt. Augustus Campaign Information