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Fonterra: Milk and coal don’t mix!

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Fonterra was greeted by drums, cow costumes, placards and a pile of coal on Thursday morning, 9 July, as Extinction Rebellion (XR) Ōtautahi asked the question, ‘Why are Fonterra still using coal in a climate emergency?’

The group gathered at 9:30 am to deliver an open letter to Fonterra and create a visual spectacle outside their offices on 525/227 Halswell Junction Road, Christchurch. Fonterra closed their gates on the peaceful protestors, who read their letter aloud outside the gates. The demonstration followed Bathurst’s application to expand the Canterbury coal mine. Most of the coal from this mine goes to Fonterra’s factory to dehydrate milk.

"The proposed expansion of the Canterbury coal mine has everything to do with Fonterra’s addiction to coal. They are burning coal to dry out milk. Why are we seeing these irresponsible decisions in the middle of a climate crisis?" asks XR Ōtautahi spokesperson Selina Clare.

"Fonterra seem determined to use coal till the cows come home" says Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson Cindy Baxter. CANA have conducted extensive research into the relationship between dairy giant Fonterra and Bathurst’s coal companies.

While Fonterra made a public commitment to move away from coal, the proposed expansion of the Canterbury coal mine suggests this will not happen any time soon.

"The application to expand the Canterbury coal mine involves both future and retrospective consents. Bathurst have been mining more coal than they have consent to mine. As their primary customer Fonterra needs to be held responsible for the effect coal is having on the climate. Fonterra’s coal use is driving the expansion of coal mines." Says Michael Apathy, who attended the protest.

While over 600 submissions were made on the mine’s expansion, the group believes Fonterra need to be made accountable to the public. Despite cold temperatures and heavy rain, 40 members of the public, including children, and teenagers, turned up to send their message of public accountability.

"People need to know about the mutually supportive relationship between Fonterra and Bathurst. While Fonterra are buying so much coal locally, Bathurst can afford to push ahead with bigger mining projects on the West Coast that would see the Denniston and Buller Plateau’s destroyed. We’re in an ecological crisis and we need better decisions from companies, councils and the government." says Clare.

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