The Government of New Zealand has withdrawn a plan to start mining in conservation areas following opposition from protestors.

New Zealand Resource and Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said conservation and national parks are of deep importance and should be protected, according to Bloomberg.

The government previously proposed releasing 7,070ha of land in conservation areas for exploration and mining.

Following the announcement, about 47,000 people signed a Green Party-organised petition saying mining would destroy the country’s tourism industry, which makes up 10% the nation’s $130bn economy.

About 40% of New Zealand’s mineral resource is under land protected by the Crown Minerals Act, a list of areas where mining is prohibited.

Mining currently occupies less than 0.02% of New Zealand’s total land area.

In 2009, New Zealand produced 13.4t of gold, 14.3t of silver and 0.5 million tons of iron sands and 4.5 million tons of coal.