Andrew Owen | Taranaki Daily News | July 25 2017
The decision on a controversial application to mine thousands of tons of iron sand off the Taranaki coast has been put back by a week.
The Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) decision-making committee is considering an application by Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd (TTR) to extract billions of dollars in iron ore in shallow waters about 25 kilometres off the coast of Patea.
The 20-year project would involve extracting about a quarter of a cubic kilometre of iron sands, weighing a billion tonnes, from under the sea within the South Taranaki Bight. Iron ore would be separated out on a ship before 90 per cent of the material was piped back onto the mined seabed.
A hearing on the application took place earlier this year and a decision was expected to have been given to the EPA on Thursday.
But the committee announced on Tuesday that it “requires a further extension of one week to deliver its decision to the EPA”.
It is now expected to be presented on Thursday, August 3 and will be made public in the week beginning August 14.
“As you can appreciate this is an important application and the committee is determined to ensure it has given full consideration to all of the information presented at the hearing and prepare a fully reasoned decision,” Diane Robinson, EPA Group Manager: Communications, said in a statement.
“As is usual with such applications, we fully expect the decision document itself could run into hundreds of pages. Once we have received it, the document will need to be proof-read before hard copies are produced and bound for publication.”
This is the second application by TTR, which is about 45 per cent foreign-owned, to get approval for the project.
Its previous application was rejected by the EPA in 2014 but the company then modified its proposal and now describes the potential effects on the marine environment as “very small to negligible”.
However, the application has attracted a great deal of opposition from iwi and hapu members in South Taranaki, as well as opposition from further afield.
Environmental groups including Greenpeace and Forest & Bird, along with fisheries companies, are opposing the mining permit, concerned about the impact on blue whales, Maui’s dolphins and other marine life.