Imminent changes at Stockton Plateau

Future plans for the Stockton Plateau Hydro Scheme will be influenced by the cessation of coal mining on Stockton Plateau and the transition of management of the mine site back to government. This can be expected to involve Ngati Waewae, Ngai Tahu and the Department of Conservation as decision-makers. Google Earth's 2023 imagery shows the current state of the plateau.

The coal mining licences and consents for Stockton Mine are due to expire in 2027. Renewal of licences, other than for rehabilitation purposes, could be challenging. Coal reserves on Stockton Plateau are largely exhausted. BT Mining could be expected to quit Stockton Mine by or before 2027 but may wish to retain access to other coal resources in the adjoining Waimangaroa Valley. BT Mining, or spinoffs, may have a commercial interest in rehabilitation of Stockton Plateau.

Redundancy of a skilled workforce could be avoided if redirected into construction and operation of Stockton Plateau Hydro Scheme, rehabilitation, and other associated downstream industries. Integrating scheme construction with rehabilitation works will help manage the adverse short-term effects of rehabilitation (increased silt and acid loads).

The process for the miners exit is defined in the sales agreements which, anecdotally, cover settlement of BT Mining’s rehabilitation liabilities and transfer of land titles back to the government. HDL expects BT Mining’s exit to be driven not by the the date of expiring licenses but by commercial interests arising from maintaining viable coal shipments and avoiding investment in an exhausted resource.