Mining on the seabed is all set to resurface in NZ

dawn across Chatham Rise
David Burroughs | Stuff NZ

The company which last year lost an application to mine iron ore from the South Taranaki seabed is applying for a new permit.

Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) confirmed it is preparing a new consent application for the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and had spent millions in scientific and environmental studies to understand the effects of the project on the South Taranaki Bight since its failed attempt.

The company said it had also “taken onboard the criticisms levelled at it in the previous application and addressed the areas of uncertainty”.

In mid-2013, TTR applied for a permit to mine 50 million tonnes of sand each year – taking 5 million tonnes of iron out and returning the rest of the sand to the sea floor – across 65.76 square kilometres.

The application received 4702 submissions, with only eight fully supporting the proposal and in June last year, following a hearing by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), it was denied.

In its report the EPA said there was “uncertainties in the scope and significance of the adverse environmental effects and those on existing interests, such as the fishing interests and the iwi”.

“Overall the DMC (decision making committee) found that the application did not meet the sustainable management purpose of EEZ (economic exclusion zone) Act, including that it was not satisfied that the life-supporting capacity of the environment would be safeguarded or that the adverse effects of the proposal could be avoided, remedied or mitigated, given the uncertainty and inadequacy of the information presented,” the report said.

The application then moved on to the High Court, where TTR filed an appeal in early July, but dropped it in December.

However, on Monday TTR said it had commenced a programme of stakeholder engagement, undertaken further scientific studies on operations and had the models updated for those results, for the new consent.

“TTR also engaged economists to assess the economic benefit at a regional level, rather than just the legislatively required New Zealand benefit. This information addresses the areas identified as gaps in our previous application.”

“This information has significantly contributed to New Zealand’s body of knowledge and understanding of the area,” it said.

TTR currently has a permit to mine the iron ore from New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, over an area of approximately 66 square kilometres. The mining would cover an area of less than 5 square kilometres each year.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) Taranaki branch manager Chris Wilkes said the new application was disappointing.

“It’s a dumb idea,” he said. “I’m not happy at all.”

Wilkes said the Cape Egmont Boating Club, which he was a member of, had been approached by TTR and they were sending an employee out to explain the new application at a meeting on Tuesday.

He said he expected at least the same amount of support against the proposal as last time.

“We’ll fight this all the way,” he said.

The mining would create a plume of dirty water that would stretch along the coastline and affect the sealife in the area, he said.

“It’s not our domain to do that.”


1 Comment

Filed under Environmental impact, New Zealand

One response to “Mining on the seabed is all set to resurface in NZ

  1. Senta

    Locals need to pay for independent reports by experts to assess the new application and engage the local Press plus activist groups. What is this company? What assets for rehab does it have, ie what rehab bonds? Where does the company pay tax, how transparent are its operations? Are locals consulted? No mine ever failed to leave devastation behind.

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