Dairy protests: Got coal with your milk?

Protesters will be handing out free Fonterra dairy products with a side of coal in Auckland today.

The stunt aims to spread the word that the New Zealand based dairy company digs up and burns coal to make its products.

The latest deposit in its sights is near the border between Auckland and Waikato at Mangatawhiri, stuff.co.nz reported.

The group behind the protest said that coal is adding to climate change issues and instead argue more sustainable fuels should be used.

Fonterra's coal mining company Glencoal has applied for resource consents to develop an open cut coal mine on 30 hectares of farmland at Mangatawhiri.

The new mine would replace the company’s 18-year-old Kopako 3 [K3] mine located 8km south of Maramarua on New Zealand’s North Island.

Already Glencoal has Government permits to mine the new property which is forecasted to produce approximately 120,000 tonnes of coal a year.

But opposition to the planned mine is growing.

Former Green Party co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons is among those against the mine.

Working alongside the Coal Action Network Aotearoa, Fitzsimons claims the residents’ group is "strong".

Discussing today’s Aukland protest outside Fonterra’s head office Fitzsimmons said it was about raising community awareness.

"We're trying to get more interest in the fact that Fonterra is selling clean green products that use the dirtiest, most climate changing fuel to make them," she said.

"The irony is that climate change is a huge threat to dairy farming. We're right in the middle of the worst drought most of us can remember and climate change is going to make that worse."

The activist group claims that Fonterra is the third-largest consumer of coal in New Zealand, and that the company has passed up numerous opportunities to convert its heat plant from coal to wood.

"At what stage do you say, it's worth spending a little more to be seen as clean, when this product, of all products, relies on the perception of being clean and green, when it's actually not," Fitzsimmons said.

She said the protesters were not trying to smear Fonterra's image.

"They've already got problems with cows, nitrates and waterways, if coal starts to become a big problem for its image as well, it's not a good look."

A public meeting in opposition to the proposed new mine will be held this week.

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