A major Australian company has warned that lead levels in New Zealand’s lead mines are “out of order” and are “unacceptable”.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says lead levels have reached levels that “caused significant harm” to people, animals and the environment.
The New Zealand Government has confirmed that there are 1,200 lead mines across the country, many in the North Island.
The government is now seeking to regulate the industry, with a $10 million plan to help the industry grow.
Lead mining is a relatively new industry in New England.
It is illegal in the US, Canada, Australia and parts of Europe.
It was introduced in the 1930s in the United Kingdom, where it was originally used for power generation.
In the 1960s, it became an industrial commodity in China, where thousands of miners were employed to produce lead.
In New Zealand, lead is mined in the country’s lead-rich West Coast and South Island.
Lead was first banned in the UK in 1984, but remains legal in the rest of the world.
The industry is expected to be regulated in the coming months.