Exploration for minerals and for oil and gas are at record highs in New Zealand, according to a government report out Tuesday.
The Petroleum and Minerals Sector Report showed the petroleum and minerals sector generated 333 NZ dollars (260 U.S. dollars) per hour worked, compared with the national average of 48 NZ dollars, making it the most productive sector in the New Zealand economy.
In the last six years, it said, New Zealand had seen petroleum exploration and development totaling 8.3 billion NZ dollars; 1.9 billion NZ dollars in levies and royalties being paid to the government, including 380 million NZ dollars last year; and investment in mineral prospecting and exploration at an historic high of 47 million NZ dollars in 2012.
"The summer ahead will be one of the largest on record for oil and gas exploration in New Zealand with 13 exploratory wells being drilled offshore and 27 onshore. The industry is expected to spend 600 million NZ dollars to 755 million NZ dollars," Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said in a statement on the report.
However, the opposition Green Party pointed out the report said most of the easily mined coal and gold resources were "close to exhausted" and "increasingly unprofitable," while it failed to account for the cost of pollution caused by fossil fuels.
"The report shows that the wealth generated by mining isn't staying with workers; it's going to foreign mine owners," Green Party mining spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said in a statement.
"For a country that depends on a stable climate for its agricultural exports and markets itself to the world as clean and pure, trying to dig up more climate-polluting fossil fuels is economic suicide."