They Don’t Bat an Eyelid

It seems that huge commercial interests don’t bat an eyelid at mining 23 MILLION years of preserved history and processing it into poultry and pig feed. I’ve recently shared with you the amazing discovery of ancient moa footprints and NOW, only a short distance away, at Foulden Maar…

Foulden Maar near Middlemarch in Otago, New Zealand. Click on photo to enlarge

Credit: By Kimberley Collins – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Foulden leaf_edited_1600w
A 23 million-year-old leaf found at Foulden Maar. Photo: Supplied. Click on the photo to enlarge

The site, Middlemarch’s Foulden Maar, was formed 23 million years ago when a volcano erupted and formed a deep crater lake. The lake has since filled with the sediment from the microscopic diatomite plant and dried out, leaving behind a “cornucopia” of fossils.

Plaman Resources, which owns the land and mining rights to the maar, plans to dig out all of the the 23-million-year-old fossil-containing diatomite and turn it into food for intensively-farmed pigs, chicken and turkeys around the world.

— the above two paragraphs are from Newsroom’s  Dunedin’s ‘Pompeii’ to be mined to make pig food

The article goes on to report information shared by [Associate Professor] Daphne Lee from the University of Otago, and mentions that the oldest galaxias (whitebait) fish in the world was found at the site. “That fish is lying there as it sank to the bottom of the lake. Every little bone is intact.” (NB. if you go to the article, the header photo shows a fossil of the extinct Galaxias effusus)

— facts and quotes I discuss in this section are from Newsroom’s  Opposition grows to fossil mining project

Recently a leaked confidential report came to light, written by Goldman Sachs and the following quote appears to show utter contempt for the locals..

“Any appeal to the Environment Court is likely to come from a small number of local residents, who are not well-resourced and will not have comprehensive technical reports to the same extent as Plaman Global would have.”

It’s feared that the company intends to fully mine Foulden Maar as they’ve applied to buy the surrounding farm.

Our former Prime Minister Helen Clark is voicing her concerns in no uncertain terms:

“It just doesn’t stack up. It’s a question of values. Do we value knowledge? Do we value natural heritage? Do we value science and research, or do we just want to a quick dollar from a low value pit? I mean, really, it’s distressing.”

Just a small part of the Foulden Maar picture by Paula Peeters.

WP BLOG: Paula Peeters –  Paperbark Writer

Prof Daphne Lee commissioned Dr Paula Peeters to draw a reconstruction of the Foulden Maar fossil site (I’d seen the finished drawing in an article). I found that Paula has a WP blog and published a whole blog-post about the commission and the steps she took to meet the challenge. It’s a VERY informative and fascinating post! Paula has a PhD in ecology and is also an artist. You can see the full picture at the following link..

Drawing on Queensland’s present to recreate New Zealand’s past

In conclusion…

I’ve read a lot about this today and it’s been really difficult to select just a few things to share so that I don’t overwhelm you! What I’ll do is leave some links if you’d like to read more…

This recently published  Wikipedia article  is very informative and has a wealth of references

Quarrying and Mining Magazine article about Plaman Resources plans, published August 13, 2018 and titled  Mining Black Pearl

Radio New Zealand published an article early this evening titled  Otago community takes on major international mining company  and includes more information from Daphne Lee, more quotes from the local community, and also from Helen Clark.

The Otago Daily Times has published a number of informative articles:

May 13, 2019   Clark joins opposition to Middlemarch mine proposal

May 09, 2019   Mine threat to fossil record

April 20, 2019  Leaked report sheds light on mine project

June 02, 2018  Miners, scientists unlikely allies

Posted by Liz; Exploring Colour (2019)

13 thoughts on “They Don’t Bat an Eyelid

Add yours

  1. Thanks for this informative post Liz, spiked with helpful links. I would like to share it around. Is that ok? Such brutal ignorance and yet another ignorant, greedy, ugly human enterprise with no qualms about destroying precious life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this, Liz. Its another example of selling off what is most valuable in our home to make a quick buck. Our natural environment is worth more to us both in it’s intrinsic value and it’s attraction as a tourism destination. Who’s thinking about our children and grand children?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve seen fossilized wood, and plenty of fossil ferns in the coal region of Pennsylvania, but never anything so incredibly detailed as that leaf in your photo. I understand business is business, but it’s hard to believe they preserve at least a portion of this amazing site for scientific study, instead of wantonly destroying it for a truckload of diatomaceous earth


  4. It’s very sad that all that potential knowledge will be destroyed just for a quick profit. It seems all to common around the world.


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