Economy, Mining and Manufacturing
Macraes, alluvial mining, external processing, Iron sand, New Zealand wool
New Zealand has a wide diversity of minerals, but few are mined on a significant basis. The most notable is gold, of which 8,600 kg (19,000 lb) was mined in 2000. Most gold comes from two mines, Macraes in the Otago region (southern South Island) and the Martha Mine in the Coromandel mountain range (northern North Island). Some alluvial mining takes place on the west coast of the South Island and in Otago. These regions are historic centers of the mining industry, which in the 1860s and 1870s furnished the bulk of New Zealand’s exports. Iron sand is mined south of Auckland and supplies the country’s one steel mill. Limestone is mined for the manufacture of cement. New Zealand has extensive coal resources, but much of it is low-grade lignite. Most mining operations now focus on the country’s deposits of higher quality subbituminous coal. In 1999 New Zealand produced 4.1 million short tons of coal. About one-third of the total coal production is exported, primarily to Japan and Chile.
The biggest manufacturing sector, accounting for 25 percent of industrial employment, is food, beverages, and tobacco. Most food-processing industries are located in urban centers. Meat-processing and dairy factories are located in the main agricultural regions. Winemaking is increasingly significant, with the main production centers in Marlborough on the northeastern coast of the South Island and Hawkes Bay and Gisborne in eastern North Island.
Also important to the economy are industries producing machinery and equipment, metal products, processed timber, pulp and paper, textiles, clothing, footwear, and leather. Most New Zealand wool is used for either carpet manufacture or clothing. Some of it is exported in bulk for external processing into finished goods. Although some industries have declined as a result of the tariff cuts of the 1980s and 1990s, some specialized industries have established international markets for themselves. The boatbuilding industry, for example, has expanded its market, especially for luxury yachts, since New Zealand won the America’s Cup, an international yachting-race trophy, in 1995.
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