Groups prepare for seabed mining hearing in Wellington

There have been a series of protests against consents to mine the South Taranaki seabed. Photo/File

Wanganui Chronicle | 3 April, 2018

It’s good to see so many groups banding together to oppose mining the South Taranaki seabed, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining chairwoman Cindy Baxter says.

The groups will be heard in the Wellington High Court from April 16-19. They include iwi, conservation and fishing interests.

They are appealing against the Environmental Protection Authority’s August 2017 decision to give mining company Trans-Tasman Resources consent to mine iron-sand offshore from Patea.

The consent was narrowly granted. Two of the four-member decision-making committee opposed it and chairman Alick Shaw used his casting vote to grant it.

The hearing will be before High Court Justice Helen Cull, and can only be on points of law. Ms Baxter has about 15 points of law ready for Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM)’s lawyer Davey Salmon to make.

Those points will be shared among the others groups that are appealing.

“We are trying to avoid repetition and not waste the judge’s time.”

The other groups involved in the appeal are the Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui Trust, Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Limited, Fisheries Inshore New Zealand Ltd, New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fisherman Inc, Talleys Group Ltd, Southern Inshore Fisheries Management Company Ltd and Cloudy Bay Clams Ltd, Te Kāhui O Rauru trustees, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc, and Greenpeace of New Zealand Inc appealing in tandem with KASM.

Trans-Tasman Resources has spent $65 million so far on progressing its mining aims. In the South Taranaki Bight it wants to suck up 50 million tonnes of iron-sand a year, exporting the 10 per cent iron ore content and returning the rest to the sea floor.

The mining is to be done across 66 square kilometres, all 22-36km offshore from Patea, in 25-60m of water.

The consents are the first granted in New Zealand for mining in the country’s large exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The company’s website anticipates the first export will take place in 2020.

It says the operation will create 300 local jobs and spend $350m a year on operating costs. Export revenues are expected to be $400m a year.

Trans-Tasman Resources also has a prospecting permit for a long stretch of the South Island’s West Coast. There it is looking for mineral sand containing ilmenite, zircon, rutile, garnet and gold.

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