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 2017, New Zealand had 18 productive coal mines which were all open cast operations. The country uses coal for fueling industrial processes, 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.
New Zealand’s past volcanic activity has contributed to its unique geology and reserves of ironsand – a type of sand with large concentrations of iron. Black ironsand is found primarily on the west coast of the North Island; as such, commercial mines mainly operate in this region. Iron sand is used for the manufacture of steel. The demand for carbon steel in the country is met equally by both the domestic manufacture of the product and import of internationally sourced steel.
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 over 6.3 thousand kilograms in 2018. 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.