Tag Archives: Trans-Tasman Resources

NZ seabed mining application ‘riddled with scientific uncertainties’

(Photo: ROBERT CHARLES/ Fairfax NZ)

(Photo: ROBERT CHARLES/ Fairfax NZ)

Cindy Baxter, | Fuseworks

Trans Tasman Resources’ (TTR) bid to mine 66 sqkm of the seabed in the South Taranaki Bight is so riddled with uncertainties that the EPA should decline the application, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) told the EPA hearings in Hamilton today.

In a series of two submissions, KASM pointed to a myriad of uncertainty and missing science. Meanwhile a 12-year-old girl from Raglan made a heartfelt plea to the EPA committee.

During last week’s expert hearings, KASM lawyer Duncan Currie told the EPA, TTR’s expert on how far the sediment plume – from the mining of black sand off the seabed – would stretch across the South Taranaki Bight, had said “the uncertainty of the uncertainty is uncertain.”

Dr Mark Hadfield had described the plume as being 20km long and several km across: a plume of around 100sqkm. This would, presumably, continue for 20 years.

He said TTR had admitted it was uncertain about the impact of a whole range of issues, from the plume, to the effect on the benthic ecology, to the presence of blue whales in the Bight and the effect of noise from mining on them.

He urged the EPA, in the face of scientific uncertainties, and in light of New Zealand’s obligations under national – and international law – to decline the application.

KASM Chairperson Phil McCabe’s submission was particularly critical of the way TTR had managed to avoid the EPA hearing evidence from New Zealand’s blue whales expert, Leigh Torres, who has surveyed the blue whales in the area, concluding that it’s a foraging ground for the endangered giant of the sea, one of only five in the Southern Hemisphere.

“TTR simply included a reference to her research in their overview document, but never included it as evidence, so it could not be part of the case, and they declined to call her as a witness. TTR have cleverly kept her out of the hearing,” said McCabe.

Mr Currie called for the EPA to reconsider its decision not to call Ms Torres, and pointed out that KASM expert witness Dr Liz Slooton had been very concerned at the lack of evidence of the impact on the whales and Maui’s dolphins.

Sequoia, 12, from Raglan, made her own submission.

“Creatures, some that haven’t even been discovered yet, live in every little nook and cranny, every crevice and surface – even beneath the sand on the ocean floor. They swarm through the sea in numbers that cannot be counted and some wander around like lonesome spirits. They range from microscopic organisms to the largest animal ever to live on earth.

“And I think of each and every one of these beings as an important part of my world. What if the mining is much worse than everyone thinks and harms creatures that are important to keep the ocean alive? What if the mining upsets things and they never get better again?”

“Please don’t let this happen,” she told the EPA.

KASM is calling for TTR to go back and do a lot more science to fill in the knowledge gaps on the effect of seabed mining on the marine ecology.

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Being leader in seabed mining likened to prostitution

Protesters against seabed mining plans off the Taranaki/Wanganui coast

Protesters against seabed mining plans off the Taranaki/Wanganui coast

Chris Gardner | Fairfax media

The world’s rarest dolphin could become extinct if a seabed mining scheme near the west coast feeding grounds of the Maui’s dolphin gets the go ahead, say environmentalists.

The critically endangered Maui’s dolphin, of which there were an estimated 55 adults left in 2012, was the prime concern of many submitters in Hamilton yesterday during the second day of an Environmental Protection Agency hearing into Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR) application to annually mine 50 million tonnes of seabed material.

Raglan’s Whaingaroa Environment Centre worker Danielle Hart called for the agency to dismiss the application, relating to a 65.76 square kilometre zone about 22 to 36 kilometres off Patea, because of the threat to Maui’s dolphin.

“Maui is at a critically low level – we cannot afford to take risks and lose even one individual,” she said.

Hart said New Zealand was being asked to put the marine environment at risk for business purposes.

“I’ve heard numerous concerns from people in the community, and further afield, about TTR’s application.”

Hart said Maui Dolphin Day, at Raglan, was attended by 2000 people every year.

“People battle the winds to stand on the beach, join hands and send a message.”

Maui’s and Hector’s Dolphins Education/Action Inc chairperson Christine Rose said 70,000 people in New Zealand had signed petitions calling for protection of the two dolphin species.

“Even conservative Government experts concede that Maui’s dolphins cannot sustain a single human-induced mortality in any 10- to 23-year period if the species is to survive . . . The effects of seabed mining on top of the other threats such as some types of fishing are a step too far.”

Rose said both the Department of Conservation and Maui’s and Hector’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan had identified seabed mining as an important threat.

“TTR’s experts admit the limits to their knowledge . . . They are taking a best guess at noise effects from the seabed mining operation and are working on incomplete information about dolphin distribution . . .

“Potential effects on Maui’s and Hector’s dolphin include noise, collisions with vessels and mining equipment, habitat displacement and damage, pollution and secondary effects from the plume on food prey species, including in the coastal habitat.”

Rose said it was of major concern that no base line of habitat occupation or potential effects existed and there was a lack of systematic science.

“TTR fail to scientifically establish an absence of dolphins from the area. They also fail to establish an absence of effects.

“The critically endangered status of Maui’s and Hectors dolphins, and moral and international obligations require all efforts to ensure the preservation but also the recovery of this species.

“This requires avoiding introducing new threats into the dolphins’ habitat – out to at least 100m deep, and in the dolphin corridor between the North and South Islands.”

Raglan resident John Lawson said a lot of the information surrounding the application was either uncertain or incomplete.

“We need to wait until we do know . . . Adjourn this hearing until you have got more information.”

Agency hearing committee chair Greg Hill, with members Gillian Wratt, Brett Rogers, William Kapea and Stephen Christensen, are considering 60,000 pages of submissions in their decision-making process.

The hearing is expected to conclude on Friday and then moves to New Plymouth.

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NZ: Author questions company’s right to mine seabed

“Seabed mining is yet another unnecessary, greed-based human threat…”

Chris Gardner | Fiarfax media

tuiallenTrans-Tasman Resources has no right to mine 50 million tonnes of seabed material every year off the North Island’s west coast, according to children’s author Tui Allen.

Allen, whose 2011 novel, Ripple, about dolphins was selected for the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair, told an Environment Protection Agency hearing in Hamilton on Monday that humanity did not own the ocean.

“It belongs to the creatures of the sea,” Allen, of Hamilton, said. “They have the right to keep it as it is.”

Trans-Tasman Resources, a private company established in 2007 to explore iron sand deposits off the North Island’s west coast, has applied to mine in a 65.76 square kilometre zone 22 to 36 kilometres off Patea.

The Taranaki Bight application attracted 4850 submissions nationally, some of which are being heard in Hamilton with further hearings scheduled for New Plymouth, Wanganui and Hawera.

Allen was the first of 80 Waikato submitters to speak at the hearing at Waikato Stadium yesterday considering the first marine consent application to be submitted under the Exclusive Economic and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012.

“It’s like digging up your neighbour’s yard to get their buried goodies. If we humans have to soil our own land that’s bad enough, but can we please leave the ocean alone?”

Allen’s greatest concern was for the endangered and declining Maui’s dolphins, and blue, southern right and orca whales.

“Seabed mining is yet another unnecessary, greed-based human threat to these precious animals and their home. Stay out of their world please,” Allen said.

She was also concerned with coastal erosion.

“Large scale mining of the Tasman seabed will remove non-renewable sand resources that supply west coast beaches up to Cape Reinga. It will cause increased coastal erosion both up- and downstream from where any mining takes place . . . at risk is a fantastic coastline, stacked with some of New Zealand’s most loved and commercially valuable surf-breaks, plus a host of spectacular swimming beaches and fishing spots.”

Noise from the operation will effect marine mammals and fisheries, Allen claimed, and heavy metals settled on the seabed will be disturbed with the potential to accumulate in fish species.

Carolina Hart-Meade, who lives on Mt Karioi at Raglan, told the hearing nothing happened in the environment in isolation.

“I am here because this application is about isolating materials and does not address the impact of this with a bigger picture overview of accumulative effects,” Hart-Meade said.

“What Trans-Tasman Resources proposes to do with over one billion tonnes of seabed is to blow it, snort it up to a surface vessel, crush it, suck it magnetically to isolate iron ore, wash this ore in desalinated water, transfer it to another vessel, store it for an international market and spit the rest back to the sea floor. To me that’s really unmaking the bed.”

Hart-Meade said humanity needed to conduct itself in ways that did not destroy other species.

Her husband, Xavier Meade, who teaches visual arts and eco design at Wintec, said he opposed the application on the grounds of logic.

“To exhaust resources at the pace our civilisation is doing has taken us to huge social imbalances.”

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining committee member and Raglan resident Wanda Baker said her concerns were “unapologetically philosophical and spiritual”.

“How do we want our oceans to look in 100 years, 1000 years? What will the view be? Open space, blue waves, or seabed mining vessels 300 metres long and their support vessels up and down the west coast.”

Baker said she did not want the west coast to become an industrial mining zone.

“That would destroy much of what I and others value about living here.”

“It would seem that our politicians have created our oceans as an exclusive economic zone for commercial gain, not to protect them . . . Seabed mining is not an investment, nor is it beneficial if it threatens the sustainability of life and biosystems in our oceans.”

Joan Havemann, of Raglan, was also opposed.

“Given the many environmental challenges facing us, including climate change, and the rapidly growing realisation that we simply can’t go on with business as usual trashing the planet , surely the overall trend in research, development and practise is going to be in the direction of finding cleaner, greener, more energy, more energy efficient, less polluting ways to live?”

Heather Cunningham reminded the committee it was charged with protecting the environment. Of the application Cunningham said: “Not on my watch, and that’s what this is, this is my watch.”

She spoke of a recent encounter with a pod of common dolphins off Kawhia Harbour.

“However many there are, there’s a precious few,” she said. “With the Maui’s dolphin we’re talking an endangered species. It’s a big responsibility people, you have got to make the right choice.”

The hearing continues today, at Waikato Stadium from 9.30am and will conclude its Hamilton leg on Friday.

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New Zealand: Whales at risk from massive seabed mining project

Green Party | Sccop

Whales at risk in NZ waters from massive seabed mining project

Protesters against seabed mining plans off the Taranaki/Wanganui coast

Protesters against seabed mining plans off the Taranaki/Wanganui coast

Evidence in front of the Environmental Protection Authority today shows that a proposed sea bed mining operation off the coast of Taranaki could negatively impact on the health of whales, the Green Party said today.

Trans-Tasman Resources Limited (TTR) is proposing to undertake an iron sand mining project in the South Taranaki Bight. Nearly 50 blue whales were recently spotted near the proposed mining site, and researchers believe the area may be a blue-whale foraging ground. In the Southern Hemisphere, there are just four known blue whale foraging grounds outside of Antarctic waters.

“It appears the National Government is prepared to go to court to protect whales in the Southern Ocean but not to protect them in our own waters,” said Green Party oceans spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“Scientists are worried about the possible effects of TTR’s iron sand mining on marine mammals, including our critically endangered Maui’s dolphin and the magnificent blue whale.

“Scientists say that the proposed sea bed mining could impact on blue whales by reducing access to feeding or migration areas, and also could cause whales injury from ship collisions.

“It’s ironic that in the same week that New Zealand was successful in its court case against illegal Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean, our Environmental Protection Authority is considering granting an application in our own waters that could risk the lives of whales.

“This controversial mining project is a risk to whales and the National Government is clearly backing it.

“National gave Trans-Tasman Resources an R&D grant of $15 million in taxpayer money over three years to assist the project if the EPA grants the go ahead,” said Mr Hughes.

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NZ: Sea bed mining proposal a bad portent says Waitakere Ranges Protection Society

Waitakere Ranges Protection Society | Scoop

A proposal for sea bed mining off Taranaki may well be a bad portent for the Waitakeres West Coast further north says Waitakere Ranges Protection Society President, John Edgar. “Even though the current proposal is for an area off Patea, almost the whole coast has been issued with prospecting licences, meaning similar proposals for the Waitakeres West Coast lie ahead”.

Trans-Tasman Resources propose seabed mining over an area covering about 65km2 in water 20-45m deep. Using 350 tonne, twelve meter long seabed crawlers, 50 million tonnes of sand per annum will be pumped to a processing ship where iron ore is separated magnetically, with ‘waste’ material returned to the sea forming a sediment bed up to 5m deep.

“There are immediate and long term effects of these sea bed mining proposals”, says Mr Edgar, “which have led to environmentalists, residents, and the fishing industry, among a record of almost 4700 submitters opposing the current application”.

“Risks include long term adverse effects on the coastal and marine environment for business, recreation and habitat. The sea bed mining process involves sucking up and then redepositing sand, destructive in itself, but with the sediment plume and deposition field also smothering benthic sea life and reef ecology, damaging mussels, worms, and crustaceans, benthic invertebrates, phytoplankton, and zooplankton, impacting the entire food chain from fish to seabirds and cetaceans. In addition, there will be reduced access to fishing grounds and public water space; and impacts from seismic testing on and displacement of, Maui’s & Hector’s dolphins, Orca, Sperm whales, Blue whales and Southern Right whales, all threatened or endangered. Freshwater species which spend time in the marine environment as part of their life cycle may also be impacted”.

“The sands being processed are a non-renewable resource and are vital for replenishing coastlines, sand banks and surf breaks up the coast, affecting the values of West Coast communities to the north”.

2000 submitters have asked to be heard in hearings taking place between March and May this year. “This will be a case to watch as it has bearing on the West Coast values we know and love, and may well set a precedent for further applications closer to home” said a concerned Mr Edgar.

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NZ Environmental groups call for postponement of seabed mining application

Pattrick Smellie | Yahoo Business and Finance

Protesters against seabed mining plans off the Taranaki/Wanganui coast. Photo/File

Protesters against seabed mining plans off the Taranaki/Wanganui coast. Photo/File

Environmental groups are calling for the postponement of TransTasman Resources’ application to mine ironsands in the Exclusive Economic Zone off the coast from Patea, claiming the company has not taken all relevant considerations into account.

While the five member panel of commissioners considering the application declined to adjourn the hearings, which are scheduled to take around two months, they did call for legal advice on whether TTR might also need a resource consent under the Resource Management Act, as well as an EEZ Act marine consent.

That followed submissions by the Environmental Defence Society that if sediment released in the mining process drifted inside the 12 mile nautical limit, TTR would require an RMA consent as well as a marine consent.

The area TTR proposes to mine is all outside the 12 mile limit, and is therefore governed only by the EEZ Act, but one of the major issues in the hearings will be the impact of sediment plumes on the surrounding environment when TTR returns sands that have been stripped of iron ore to the seafloor.

Iron ore comprises around 10 percent of the volume of the sands to be mined, with the remaining 90 percent to be returned to the seafloor, where impacts on the relatively sparse seafloor life in the area should recover within two to five years, according to TTR’s submissions.

TTR had originally planned to mine an area straddling the 12 mile limit but chose instead to concentrate on a 66 square kilometre area between 22 kilometres and 36 kilometres from shore. Its opening submissions yesterday said the seabead in the relatively shallow waters of the South Taranaki Bight were already subject to regular, natural “perturbation”.

The main thrust of submissions from both EDS and the lobby group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) is that inadequate information and baseline scientific research meant consent should either be refused or approved only in stages, and using an adaptive management approach.

The EEZ Act required caution, and an adaptive management regime would mean the project could proceed only once each staged element had proven to work as well as claimed.

“Adaptive management should not be used as a way of finding out what the effects of an activity will be,” the EDS submission. “In the event that consent is granted, the Environmental Protection Authority is able to grant a staged consent. This may include carefully defined thresholds or environmental indicators as preconditions to approval of subsequent stages.”

It also challenged TTR’s suggestion that a staged approach could threaten the project’s economic viability

“It would be an error of law to state that a consent condition cannot be imposed requiring staging of this proposal on the assertion that this makes the project not viable to investors.”

KASM’s submission opposed the project on broad grounds, including negative impacts on the mining area, its surrounds and distant coastal marine environment, “changing the physical, chemical and biological nature of the seawater, causing ecosystem stress and reducing the ability for life in the water column and on the seabed to exist, thus degrading the quality of the oceans as a whole.”

“Specific potential adverse effects identified in our expert evidence include on the marine biodiversity, including the benthos and marine mammals, including blue whales and Maui’s dolphins.”

TTR had “failed to sufficiently address the crucial, and in our submission, central, issue of the effects of the mining on the benthic environment. This, in our submission, is a fundamental and crippling failure.”

It sought adjournment of the hearings while these alleged deficiencies were remedied, which the EPA-appointed commissioners declined, saying this could be dealt with during expert witness testimony later this month.

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NZ: Ironsands mining plan smells of a rort – Horan

Fuseworks media | Voxy

(Photo: ROBERT CHARLES/ Fairfax NZ)

(Photo: ROBERT CHARLES/ Fairfax NZ)

Independent MP Brendan Horan welcomes the start of hearings where thousands of ordinary Kiwis get to voice their opposition to strip-mining the seabed for ironsand.

“Trans Tasman Resources is 98% foreign-owned and is seeking to mine iron sands from the ocean off Taranaki. At the Environmental Protection Agency hearing opening this morning, just 11 submitters are in favour out of 4,708 submissions in total

“Last week I asked Steven Joyce in Parliament how he could justify allowing a 98% foreign owned company to plunder minerals for a paltry $5 million a year in net royalties. In reality he had, he has, no justification at all

“The project does not make environmental or economic sense. The Government says there may be jobs but Labour Minister Simon Bridges refuses to have any requirement for local labour content, so any job from the project, if it is approved, could go to overseas workers..

“Trans Tasman Resources are going to be taking minerals straight from the seabed. These have accumulated over millions of years. The minerals will be shipped direct to foreign countries without touching New Zealand soil. This will provide little if any benefit for our country. The idea is abhorrent to most New Zealanders.

“Trans Tasman’s business case is great for them, and a disaster for New Zealand. Their own studies show that based on a small 2% royalty rate they estimate paying the Government around $10 million per year (US$8 million.) Yet Steven Joyce in January gave the company a solid gold handout, a ‘research and development’ grant of up to $5 million per year. That is going to cut in half the effective royalties payable.

“And the impact on the environment on the ocean, on the seabed, and on the fisheries will be significant. It is not theoretical, and is demonstrated by the documents on the EPA’s website.

“This proposal has so little benefit for New Zealand that it smells of an old-fashioned rort. I look forward to what is uncovered in the hearings process,” said Brendan Horan.

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NZ: Govt urged to take precautionary approach to seabed mining

Fuseworks Media | Voxy

Protesters against seabed mining plans off the Taranaki/Wanganui coast. Photo/File

Protesters against seabed mining plans off the Taranaki/Wanganui coast. Photo/File

Seabed ironsand mining is a controversial activity with risks that New Zealanders don’t want to take, Green Party oceans spokesperson Gareth Hughes said today.

An Environmental Protection Authority hearing begins tomorrow to consider an application by Trans Tasman Resources to mine iron ore from the seabed off the west coast of the North Island. Of the the 4700 public submissions on the proposal 99.5% were against or partially against.

“I hope that the hearing commissioners will take on board the wishes of New Zealanders when it considers whether to allow the destruction of 6500 hectares of our sea floor,” said Mr Hughes.

“New Zealanders want the Government to take a precautionary approach to sea bed mining, but Energy Minister Simon Bridges has already come out backing the proposal.

“The Green Party would impose a moratorium on sea bed mining until it was proved unequivocally safe.

“There is a precedent for a moratorium. In 2012, the Government of the Northern Territory in Australia imposed a moratorium on seabed mining to undertake more research into its impacts,” said Mr Hughes.

Mr Hughes will be attending a rally put on by Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) at 9:00am, tomorrow 10 March 2014, in front of the clubrooms of the Marist St Pats Rugby Club, Haitaitai Park, Ruahine St, Haitaitai, Wellington. The EPA hearing begins at the same venue, half an hour later.

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NZ: Seabed mining hearing in March

Laird Harper | Marlborough Express

A landmark seabed mining hearing set down for next month could finally draw a line in the sand over the controversial practice.

Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) will face off against thousands of submitters who oppose their plan to extract iron sand from the sea floor, offshore of Patea.

The hearing held by the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) decision-making committee is scheduled to run from March 10 to early May.

Of the 4702 submissions received only eight fully support the proposal.

Those fighting to stop it dead in its tracks have cited concerns relating to effects on marine and coastal ecology, erosion and consequential effects on local communities.

While the handful backing the proposal say it was a worthwhile investment that would contribute to the country’s economic growth.

If given the green light the operation would cover an area of 65.76 square kilometres, near the Kupe oil rig.

TTR proposes to extract up to 50 million tonnes of sediment per year and process it aboard a floating processing storage and offloading vessel. About 5 million tonnes of iron ore concentrate will then be exported.

Last week the EPA released all the submissions made on the South Taranaki Bight project.

A sizeable chunk of those opposing the plan used a form set up by Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM).

KASM chairman Phil McCabe said the outpouring from outside of Taranaki also highlighted people’s fears that, if granted, it would open the floodgates to identical operations around the west coast.

It is the first application for a marine consent to be heard by an EPA-appointed committee, and the largest response since the authority began in 2011.

Mr McCabe said for the process to have weight some hearings needed to be heard outside of Wellington and everyone who wants to speak needs to be allowed to.

An EPA spokeswoman said despite the scope of the hearing they had a “robust processes in place to handle this type of situation”.

“It should be noted, that while 2000 people initially indicated they wished to speak to their submission, the final number may be a lot less.

“If people have not yet confirmed they would like to speak, we encourage them to let us know as this will help with our planning and preparation for the hearing.”

She said some parts of the hearing would be “held in other places in New Zealand and/or other venues in Wellington”.

These details are still to be confirmed. The EPA also commissioned and released 10 independent reviews of technical reports and one report that considers the impact of TTR’s marine consent application on the recreation and tourism.

That report found the direct effects of the iron sand mining were “relatively minor with little impact on specific recreation and tourism activities along the southern Taranaki coast”.

And that overall, TTR had “applied robust methods to identify the nature of potential effects in their assessments of social impacts, recreation and tourism effects.”

However, the report also states there were some inadequacies in the approach for assessing direct effects, “especially the lack of a strong baseline situation for recreation and tourism, against which the effects can be assessed”.

“The implication is that the significance of effects could be under-stated, or over-stated,” the report states.

“The TTR assessments have focussed on the intended or expected effects of the mining activity, and have not considered the implications of unintended outcomes, such as ship collisions and oil spills, which are identified as low possibilities elsewhere in the TTR technical reports.”

A SNAPSHOT OF THE PROPOSED PLAN

Seabed material will be extracted using a single undersea sediment extraction device, known as a crawler. It will then be pumped by a slurry delivery pipeline to a floating processing, storage and offloading vessel to extract iron ore. De-ored sand will be re-deposited on the seabed generally into previously worked areas. Processing on the slow moving vessel involves separation of the ore from the seabed material using screening and magnetic processes, and does not involve the discharge of any chemicals. The iron ore concentrate from the processing vessel will be unloaded to another where it will be de-watered and stored ready for transfer by a bulk carrier for export to world markets. Transfer will take place near the project area, although during bad weather, it will take place in a sheltered location in the South Taranaki Bight or nearby. The project is likely to use a number of different ports to support its vessels depending on the services required and the method of delivering them. The ports of Whanganui, New Plymouth and Nelson are the closest to the mine site in that order and each may offer the project support in different ways, according to their capabilities. About 200 people will be required to operate the vessels. With about 50 more fulltime equivalents employed as administration, engineering and environmental staff, and contractors.

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NZ: Objections to offshore mining plan pour in

Jamie Morton | NZ Herald

Many of the nearly 4700 objecting to Taranaki offshore iron-sand exploitation also want to speak at hearings.

Many submitters question whether the forecast economic benefits of the project will outweigh the expected economic and environmental costs. Photo / APN

Many submitters question whether the forecast economic benefits of the project will outweigh the expected economic and environmental costs. Photo / APN

A controversial bid to mine an area of seabed off the North Island’s west coast has met a backlash, with only a handful of several thousand submissions in support of the plan.

Of just over 4700 submissions received by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), which is considering Trans-Tasman Resources’ application, 99.5 per cent were either fully or partly against the plan.

TTR is seeking a consent to mine 65sq km of exclusive economic zone seabed in the South Taranaki Bight for iron-rich sand particles, using large remote-controlled machines that would travel along the seafloor pumping sand to a processing ship.

The EPA said a wide range of concerns were raised in the submissions, with the majority of issues relating to effects on marine and coastal ecology, erosion and waves, and consequential effects on local communities, recreation, businesses, Maori interests and economy.

Nearly half of the submitters want to speak at next months’ hearings.

Submitters cited concerns about the potential impact on recreational activities such as fishing, diving and surfing, reef habitats, sediment deposition and plumes, the disturbance of the seabed and the ability of benthic communities to recover.

They questioned whether the economic benefits of the project, touted to generate $147 million in exports, would outweigh ecological and economic losses – and worried local communities would not benefit.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining chairman Phil McCabe said the feedback showed “overwhelming public consensus” opposing the plans.

“The geographical spread and sheer volume of submissions show that this application is certainly one of national significance and of high concern to the people of New Zealand,” he said.

Haimona Maruera, chairman of Hawera-based Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui, said despite studying the proposal in great detail, his iwi were left with too many concerns.

TTR chief executive Tim Crossley said the company was reading and considering all of the submissions.

“Although we are still analysing submissions, we note that submitters want to see a project that will bring benefits to the Taranaki community, and that their ability to enjoy the South Taranaki natural features will not be diminished.”

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