Mining involves the extraction of naturally occurring mineral solids, such as coal and ores; liquid minerals, such as crude petroleum; and gases, such as natural gas. This can be achieved through underground or open-cut mining; dredging; quarrying; well operations or evaporation pans; recovery from ore dumps or tailings. It includes beneficiation activities (i.e. preparing the materials through mechanical processes such as crushing, screening, washing and flotation) performed at the mine site, or as a partof mining activity. While mining is not a significant activity within Christchurch, the city provides support and management services for the industry.

New Zealand has extensive coal resources, mainly in the Waikato and Taranaki regions of the North Island and the West Coast, Otago and Southland regions of the South Island. Lignite is New Zealand’s largest fossil fuel energy resource. There are more than six billion tonnes of recoverable quantities in the 10 largest deposits. It has been estimated that national in-ground resources of all coals total more than 15 billion tonnes, of which 80 percent are South Island lignites. South Island lignites are being evaluated for their potential for large-scale petrochemical processing into a range of products, including transport fuels, briquettes and fertilisers.

New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals manages the New Zealand Government’s oil, gas, mineral and coal resources, known as the Crown Mineral Estate. It advises on policy and operational regulation and promotes investment in the mineral estate. Solid Energy is the largest coal mining company in New Zealand and is currently a State-Owned Enterprise (SOE). Other large companies in the South Island mining sector are L&M Group and Oceania.

Christchurch Quick Facts

  • Contributes approximately $85 million to Christchurch GDP (Infometrics’ Estimate year ended June 2014, $2010)
  • Accounts for around 0.5 percent of GDP in Christchurch
  • Around 44 business units are based in Christchurch (2014, Statistics New Zealand)
  • Has around 260 employees (2014, Statistics New Zealand)
Mining Sector Employment Breakdown, 2014
Source: Statistics New Zealand
Selected Sub-sectorEmployee Count% of Total
Coal Mining11041.5%
Non-Metallic Mineral Mining and Quarrying11041.5%
Total260