Tag Archives: New Zealand

Trans Tasman Resources’ fight to mine South Taranaki Bight back in NZ court

Whanganui doctor Athol Steward was joined by supporters in the last stretch of his walk from Raglan to Whanganui in 2017 to protest seabed mining. Photo / File

New Zealand Herald | 25 September, 2019

A mining company’s fight to dig for ironsands off the coast of Taranaki began again on Tuesday in court.

Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) was granted consent in 2017 to dig up to 50 million tonnes of sand off the South Taranaki Bight seabed each year, extract the iron ore from it, and dump the residue on the sea floor.

That consent was overturned by the High Court last year, after it was fiercely opposed by environmental groups including Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Greenpeace, and Forest and Bird.

The crux of the argument in the Court of Appeal on Tuesday centred on whether a raft of conditions that were issued with the marine discharge consent, amounted to an “adaptive management approach”.

Adaptive management is a provision that allows for an activity to still go ahead, even if the information about its effects is unknown, or incomplete.

It can also be described as learning by doing, and adjusting the way something is done once more information becomes available.

Under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act (EEZ) an adaptive management approach cannot be considered for a marine discharge consent.

The High Court found the conditions imposed alongside the consent, did amount to adaptive management, which is what TTR’s lawyers argued against on Tuesday.

Justin Smith QC told the court the conditions were no different to conditions imposed on other consents, in that if they were breached “you’re out”.

He said if it was adaptive management, the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) Decision Making Committee (DMC), which approved the application, would have known.

“The DMC was more than conscious of what adaptive management is and the [EEZ’s] prescription of its use for the purposes of discharge consents.”

“This matter was considered and considered quite carefully.”

But the respondents disagreed.

Lawyer Richard Fowler said the combination of the 109 conditions did amount to adaptive management because it required TTR to make changes once more information was gathered.

He also said some of the conditions did not have “hard limits” meaning there was no clear way to know if they had been breached or not, so was different to a regular consent.

Lawyer for Forest and Bird Martin Smith told the court the DMC was provided with information that contained significant uncertainties about the state of the current environment and the effects of the proposed activity.

“The conditions allowing adaptation were imposed in response to [a lack of information] so that info could be gathered and the activity adapted accordingly. That is the kernel of adaptive management.”

The appeal this week is the latest in a long string of litigation for the parties.

TTR initially applied for consent to mine in 2013, the Environmental Protection Authority refused the consent in 2014, but granted it when TTR re-applied in 2017.

Last year a number of environmental groups, including Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Greenpeace and Forest and Bird fought the consent in the High Court and won.

In September last year the company sought leave for this week’s appeal, which will continue to be heard on Wednesday and Thursday.

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US and allies to use ‘aid’ to subsidise tax-dodging foreign mining companies

Rather than sustainable solar panels for village communities, the United States and it allies will use promised aid money to subsidise the expansion of foreign owned large-scale mining

Rather than providing sustainable solar power for village communities, the United States, Australia and New Zealand will use their promised electrification program to subsidise the expansion of foreign owned large-scale mining in Papua New Guinea. Mining that is proven does not improve the livelihoods of ordinary people but causes massive social and environmental problems…

U.S, allies propose financing for power plant for Papua New Guinea gold mine

Colin Packham | Reuters | 6 May, 2019

The United States and a group of Pacific allies are proposing to finance a power plant to kick-start the Wafi-Golpu mine in Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s largest untapped gold resources, two sources familiar with the plan said.

The proposal would be the first to be funded by a partnership of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan that pledged to support electricity projects in Papua New Guinea (PNG) during the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit held in November in the capital of Port Moresby.

The countries promised to fund projects to provide electricity for up to 70 percent of the PNG population by 2030, a centerpiece of efforts to undercut Chinese influence in the Pacific.

Officials from the four countries met last month in Port Moresby with the PNG government to discuss the power plant funding for Wafi-Golpu, jointly owned by Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold, the two sources said.

The exact size of the investment has yet to be concluded, but the coalition is seeking to back a power natural gas-fired station that would eventually be owned and operated by the PNG government, the sources said.

“If the mine can get reliable power, it could be a major revenue earner for PNG,” a U.S. source who attended the meeting told Reuters.

He declined to be identified as he is not authorized to talk to the media.

Representatives for Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne and the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“We would welcome any proposal that would bring reliable power to the region,” said Christopher Maitland, a spokesman for Newcrest.

Wafi-Golpu is located about 65 km (39 miles) southwest of Lae, the second-largest city in Papua New Guinea, according to the joint venture’s website.

UBS estimates the mine could produce 270,000 ounces of gold and 160,000 tonnes of copper each year from around 2025.

Newcrest and Harmony hope the government will grant a mining license for Wafi-Golpu in July, said Newcrest’s Maitland.

By providing support for the mine and its power supply, the U.S.-led group is hoping to boost its diplomatic standing in the Pacific.

“Infrastructure is the proxy for the greater competition happening between the U.S with its allies and China,” said Nick Bisley, professor of international relations at Melbourne’s La Trobe University. “The U.S. has to deliver on major projects to ensure it doesn’t lose ground on China.”

The United States and its allies worry that China is increasing economic aid to the Pacific region to exert influence over vast swathes of resource-rich ocean and international forums like the United Nations.

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NZ Māori disappointed ancestral land up for tender for oil and gas drilling in Taranaki

Land covering 2200 square kilometres around Mt Taranaki has been put up for tender for oil and gas drilling. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Leigh-Marama McLachlan | Radio New Zealand | 5 May 2019 

Iwi in Taranaki are upset the government has put their ancestral land up for oil and gas drilling.

The latest block offer, announced this week, covers 2200 square kilometres of land around Mt Taranaki.

Ngāti Ruanui chief executive Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said it stirred a feeling of anxiety they know too well.

“The whole community is caught up on what happens if they come. What happens if they are irresponsible around our wāhi tapu?

“What happens if they ruin our whenua and then go off when they have found nothing and dug holes everywhere?

“A community with uncertainty can’t reach its full potential.”

This is the first block offer for this government and comes after last year’s announcement it would ban new oil and gas exploration out at sea – but not onshore.

This week’s offer excluded conservation land and cultural sites like Maunga Taranaki and Parihaka.

But Ngāruahine iwi leader Daisy Noble said it was still unacceptable.

“It should have been a stake in the ground: There is not going to be any more offers,” she said.

“They went for a bob each way and we are sick and tired of these sorts of attitudes.”

In the South Taranaki town of Patea, 53 percent of the adults earn less than $20,000 a year.

Ngāruahine recently settled its treaty claims for $67.5 million dollars but Ms Noble said oil exploration was holding them back.

“The opportunities that exist for us at home, near my hapū, is about our whenua. By the time it comes back to us, all the goodness of it is gone. It’s already taken out.

“How do we develop our whenua when you have already taken the best part away?”

Former Green Party candidate for Te Tai Hauāuru, Jack McDonald, is gutted with the offer, which covers his own tribal lands.

“It is a slap in the face that this so-called progressive government, which is meant to be taking a new approach to climate change and a new approach to Māori-Crown relations, would actually continue with this approach.”

The government aims to reduce New Zealand’s emissions to net zero by 2050.

Te Tai Hauāuru MP Adrian Rurawhe said he understood their concerns.

“I sympathise with them but until we can transition to a low emissions economy, we are basically going to have to live with the situation we are in.”

The tender closes 28 August. In a new move, companies must engage with iwi if they want to explore within 200 metres of a sacred site or waterway.

But Ms Ngarewa-Packer said under the Resource Management Act and in agreements they formed with the companies, their area of influence extended to 500m.

“But for us, some companies could sit there and say, ‘Oh we are going to default to the Crown process, versus yours.’ So to a large degree, it falls shy off the expectations we have on the company.”

She said without the power to veto, iwi ended up in costly legal fights.

Last year, Ngāti Ruanui won a lengthy battle to stop seabed mining off the coast of Patea. It is one of many legal challenges the iwi has pursued.

Ms Ngarewa-Packer said it took a toll and all of that pressure came back each time a block offer was announced.

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South Taranaki iwi Ngāti Ruanui angry at spying by Thompson & Clark during Trans-Tasman Resources mining application

Anti seabed mining protesters were spied on by agents acting for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Laurie Stowell | New Zealand Herald | 27 December, 2018

Revelations that the Government used private investigators to spy on protesters opposing Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR) seabed mining application have provoked outrage.

And one the groups targeted, South Taranaki iwi Ngāti Ruanui, is calling for a review of New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, the government body that manages oil, gas and minerals and issues permits for exploration.

A bombshell report last week, following an inquiry by the State Services Commission, laid bare Government monitoring of groups seen as “security threats”, often through the use of private investigation firm Thompson & Clark.

The security company was given the profiles and newsletters of groups opposing oil and gas exploration and ironsand mining, such as that sought by TTR – and Ngāti Ruanui was one of the main opponents.

“The report says we were monitored and the only other word for that is spying,” Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui chief executive Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.

The iwi is making an Official Information Act request for more information and may make a formal complaint, referring to the spying as “corrupt practices”.

Ngarewa-Packer said the iwi was “outraged but unsurprised” to discover the Government had used private investigators to spy on them.

The 150-page State Services Commission report shows “issue-motivated groups” such as the Ngāti Ruanui iwi were treated as security threats by several government departments.

It says the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which is responsible for NZ Petroleum and Minerals, breached its code of conduct by failing to maintain an appropriate level of objectivity and impartiality.

“MBIE’s management of its regulatory responsibilities in the petroleum and minerals area … showed evidence of poor regulatory practice.”

Ngāti Ruanui chief executive Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

The inquiry uncovered system-wide failings across the public service, including a pattern of behaviour where public servants developed inappropriately close relationships with Thompson & Clark.

The monitoring started during Helen Clark’s Labour Government, with one instance in 2002, but Ngarewa-Packer said it ramped up during the last National-led Government when Simon Bridges was Energy and Resources Minister.

In 2015 he put up the “largest ever” block offer for oil and gas exploration. New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals was making “a huge effort” to bring business into the country.

Asking for opposing groups to be “monitored” called into question every decision it has made during that period, Ngarewa-Packer said.

“It makes the Crown Minerals process look corrupt.”

She said MBIE’s poor regulatory practice and bias toward iwi and stakeholders meant the ironsands exploration process “was undermined from the start”.

“What we suspected for years has sadly been confirmed – not only have we been fighting poor practising industry but we’ve also been fighting the officials charged with providing an impartial process. New Zealanders need to trust that those at the forefront of our democratic process will have a neutral view, instead of lobbying for private industry interests.”

The South Taranaki tribe was one of a number of groups opposing the ironsand mining application by TTR. During the mining proposal hearings, its people felt their concerns were ignored and officials were biased.

“We feel like we are up against not just TTR, but the officials as well.”

It seemed paranoid at the time, but Ngarewa-Packer now believes that treatment was part of a prevailing behaviour and culture.

She called for a full review of NZ Petroleum and Minerals and full disclosure. “Taxpayers and iwi need assurance the Government can be trusted.”

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes said last week that new standards would strengthen transparency and consistency across government agencies.

“Any decision to use surveillance requires careful judgment,” Hughes said. “It must be lawful, it must be proportionate, and it must be ethical.

“It is never acceptable for an agency to undertake targeted surveillance of a person just because they are lawfully exercising their democratic rights – including their right to freedom of expression, association and right to protest.

“That is an affront to democracy.”

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Trans-Tasman Resources given leave to appeal quashing of seabed mining consent

Trans-Tasman resources want to mine ironsand off the coast of Patea.

New Zealand Herald | 24 December, 2018

Trans-Tasman Resources has been given leave to appeal the overturning of its seabed mining consent.

Leave was granted by the Court of Appeal last week, following an application by the mining company in September.

TTR is seeking to mine ironsand in the South Taranaki Bight, and it applied to the Environmental Protection Agency to take 50 million tonnes of ironsand a year from the seafloor between 22 kilometres and 36km off Patea to export to Asia.

The agency gave its consent in 2017, but opposition groups of environmentalists and iwi appealed that decision to the High Court which quashed the consents in August this year.

This week TTR said its appeal would be based on the view that the agency followed a legally correct approach in granting the consent to TTR, including conditions specifically designed to protect the marine environment and existing interests, particularly iwi.

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NZ groups opposed to seabed mining plan prepare to go back to court

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has been leading the fight against seabed mining. SIMON O’CONNOR/STUFF

Catherine Groenestein | Stuff NZ | October 9 2018

Opponents of a plan to mine ironsand off the Taranaki coast are hoping the Court of Appeal will set a precedent to discourage other companies with similar aspirations.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), Greenpeace, Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust, Te Kaahui o Rauru, Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) and the Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board have all sought leave to cross-appeal on the High Court judgment that quashed Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd’s (TTRL) consent to mine the South Taranaki Bight seabed for ironsand.  

The court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to grant it a consent was unlawful. 

Two weeks ago, TTRL sought leave to take its case to the Court of Appeal.

“There were a number of points we raised that the High Court decision did not uphold, and the Trans-Tasman Resources’ appeal has given us the opportunity to challenge those decisions,” KASM chairperson Cindy Baxter said.

“This is obviously a precedent-setting case, it’s the first application for consent, and it’s important to have this precedent as strong as possible.”

She said there were other companies interested in seabed mining along the country’s West Coast.

In May, Offshore Ironsands Mining Ltd was granted permission for mining exploration inside a marine sanctuary set up to protect the endangered Māui’s dolphins off the coast of New Plymouth.

“Our cross-appeal is a logical step to take in this precedent-setting decision, as there are other seabed mining companies waiting in the wings. There are enough pressures on our oceans already without having to deal with the impacts of seabed mining,” Emily Hunter of Greenpeace said.

Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust is cross appealing on points including its mana whenua interest and rights and the EPA’s failure to take the cautionary approach required by the Act.

“We want to make sure that anyone else that comes in has to reach this extremely high benchmark, they’re not able to just bowl in without doing the research they’re required to do,” Kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.

The iwi was disappointed the Labour Government had not included the mining programme in its move towards stopping oil and gas prospecting.

“We’re putting a lot of effort into fighting this sunset industry with absolutely shocking environmental practices, when we should be focusing on developing a progressive economy and energy sector we can all be proud of.”

Te Kaahui o Rauru and Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) have jointly lodged a cross appeal.

Kaiwhakahaere (CEO) Anne-Marie Broughton said the process had been exhausting and expensive, but Te Kaahui o Rauru likened the protection of the sea to the protection of the marae.

“The ocean is a fragile and largely unknown ecosystem and the problem is that if we damage it, we don’t know how to fix it up again. We must stand up for our environment. There are other ways to grow a healthy and sustainable economy – seabed mining is not the answer.”

The Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board has also resolved to defend the High Court’s decision, as well as to seek leave to cross-appeal in order to have the High Court’s decision confirmed on other grounds.

“It’s disappointing that we have to continue to fight to protect our environment,” chairperson Brendon Te Tiwha Puketapu said.

A spokesperson from the Court of Appeal said Forest and Bird and the Fisheries Interests had also filed cross appeals.

No date had yet been set for a hearing.

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NZ Seabed mining battle continues

Ngati Ruanui protested against Trans-Tasman Resources’ bid for marine consent to mine the seabed for iron sand. More than 6000 people signed the petition calling for a moratorium on seabed mining. (File photo: Monique)

TTR plans to appeal seabed mining decision

Jane Matthews | Stuff NZ | September 21 2018

Trans Tasman Rescorses have decided to appeal the High Court decision that quashed their consent to mine up to 50 million tonnes of ironsand from a 66 square kilometre area off the South Taranaki Bight for 35 years. (File photo)

A mining company who has had their controversial consent to mine the seabed off South Taranaki denied for the second time has decided to appeal the High Court decision to stop them.

Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) has been trying to gain access to mine the South Taranaki seabed for years and was granted it in August 2017 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, about three weeks ago the High Court quashed their consent on the grounds that the company’s method of environmental management was illegal.

TTR executive chairman Alan Eggers announced on Friday the company intended to lodge an appeal against the High Court’s decision, but first had to gain the permission of the court to do so. 

“Today TTR has lodged a notice to the Court of Appeal to seek leave to appeal the High Court judgment of August 28, 2018 regarding our marine consents for the South Taranaki Bright iron sands project,” Eggers said.

“It’s before the court and we’ll respect that and we’ll now have to see if the court will accept an appeal.”

Eggers would not answer any of Stuff‘s questions but said the basis of TTR’s appeal would be that they believe the EPA did follow a “legally correct approach in granting a marine discharge consent”.

The High Court decision to quash TTR’s contract, which granted consent from the EPA to mine up to 50 million tonnes of ironsand from a 66 square kilometre area off the South Taranaki Bight for 35 years, was because they’d planned to use an “adaptive management approach”.

Adaptive management is allowing an activity with uncertain effects and continually assessing it – essentially trying it out, seeing what happens and adapting the conditions accordingly, which was argued to be illegal under New Zealand law applying to the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining chairperson Cindy Baxter wished TTR would just ‘go away’ after years of battling. TOM PULLAR-STRECKER/STUFF

Cindy Baxter is the chairperson of Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (Kasm), who were one of the parties who appealed the granting of consent, and said she was “unsurprised” with TTR’s desire to appeal the decision.

This is TTR’s second application to mine. It first applied and was denied in 2014, and Baxter was sick of them continuing to push despite denial and vocal opposition.

“I really wish that they would just go away – there’s a huge opposition,” she said.

“We’re standing on the shoulders of tens of thousands of people.”

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