Govt Ministers hold Tiwai briefing

Southland Mayors and their Deputies, the Chair of Environment Southland and Deputy together with local iwi met with Cabinet Ministers Grant Robertson and Megan Woods in Invercargill today.

Mayor of Gore District Tracy Hicks, speaking as the Chair of the Southland Mayoral Forum said the meeting was useful to update Southland on what was happening with the negotiations between Rio Tinto and the government.

‘The Minister confirmed there is still progress to be made. The issues remain transmission pricing and remediation. He said the core issues were the workforce and remediation including intergenerational impact. He told us ‘the deal is still there to be done.’

Mayor Hicks said, ‘The Southland community needs to know what is happening and definite timelines for a way forward. We have had closure in the backs of our minds for some time now. Our most critical task in the immediate future is to explore all options and to ensure there is not only high quality remediation, but that our community doesn’t suffer.’

The briefing with Ministers Grant Robertson and Megan Woods had gone about as well as could be expected given the circumstances, he said. While there had been no guarantees, both Ministers had indicated they were continuing to engage with Rio Tinto.

‘An extended timeline for potential closure is important as is the commitment to environmental remediation, something we share with local iwi. The Tiwai staff and their families are impacted by these decisions which is something we are very aware of.’

‘The reuse of power from Manapouri needs to remain in the south.’