The search for uranium in ‘nuclear-free’ New Zealand: Prospecting on the West Coast, 1940s to 1970s
In a government search for uranium in 1944–1946, uneconomic deposits of radioactive minerals were found concentrated in dredge tailings on the West Coast. In 1954 a new search was initiated, leading to the 1955 discovery of uranium in the Buller Gorge. In the 25-year investigation programme that followed, prospectors were assisted by staff from the Mines Department and the Geological Survey and were funded by grants from the New Zealand and UK governments. The prospecting continued unchallenged by the media or peace or environmental movements until 1979 when it ended for economic rather than philosophical reasons.