The New Zealand government is preparing to open up almost 4,500 square kilometers of the South Island to exploration for platinum and other precious minerals, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment announced Wednesday.
"Platinum is an exciting commodity offering good potential for exploration and investment in New Zealand," David Binnie, general manager of New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, a branch of the ministry, said in a statement.
The ministry was consulting with Maori tribal groups and local authorities to identify any concerns and areas of particular sensitivity prior to finalizing the areas that would be opened up for exploration.
"We are considering permitting exploration for platinum and other precious minerals over 4,422.75 square km of prospective land across six separate areas of the South Island. Exploration permits will be limited to 12,000 hectares in size. The areas are located in the Southland, West Coast, Nelson and Kaikoura regions, " he said.
Sensitive conservation areas and World Heritage Sites had been excluded from the proposed tender areas.
The proposed tender was an opportunity to attract interest and competitive bids that could bring significant benefits to South Island communities and the wider New Zealand economy.
The Platinum New Zealand 2013 tender was expected to be open for expressions of interest and bids later this year, with exploration permits awarded in 2014.