Mining industry in New Zealand - statistics & facts

Mining has played an integral part in New Zealand’s economic development since the 19th century. Coal, gold, and silver are mined across the country, with the resources produced from mining used locally as well as exported. A large proportion of the country’s gross domestic product has been attributed to mining industry products.

What is mined in New Zealand?

The first coal mine was opened in 1849, leading the way for many more large-scale coalfields to be discovered. As of 2021, New Zealand had 15 productive coal mines which were all open cast operations. The country uses coal for electricity generation, particularly in the South Island where no piped gas system exists. The manufacture of important products such as cement, steel, and wool rely on the coal that is extracted domestically.

Gold and silver mining in New Zealand are small segments of the mining industry. The gold production volume of the Macraes Mine, the most productive gold mine in the country, amounted to just under 4.5 thousand kilograms in 2020. The Martha Mine, located in Waihi, produces the largest amount of silver in New Zealand and was once one of the most important silver mines in the world.

The future of mining

Although mining in the country is an important economic industry, the processes involved can lead to harmful environmental impacts. Chemical contamination on land and in water, sediments in waterways, and loss of riparian vegetation are all potential negative impacts directly linked to mining. New Zealanders are particularly concerned about the pollution of lakes and rivers in the country.

Recently, mining and the opening of new mines have been contentious topics within the country. On the one hand, many rely on mining for employment and economic growth. On the other hand, environmental groups are concerned about minimizing the impacts of mining and mine site rehabilitation. The conflict may be dissipated with the changing energy landscape as well as the limited supply of coal, with more industries turning to reliable renewable sources of energy in New Zealand to avoid carbon taxes and to ensure energy resilience in the future.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 28 most important statistics relating to "Mining industry in New Zealand".

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