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KASM, Forest & Bird appeal NZ seabed mining decision

Trans Tasman Resources Limited has been given the green light to to extract 50 million tonnes of material from the seabed off South Taranaki every year for 35 years. Photo / File

NZ Herald | 31 August, 2017

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) has today lodged an appeal against the Environmental Protection Authority’s controversial decision granting consent to ironsands miner Trans Tasman Resources.

The company was this month given the green light to extract 50 million tonnes of material from the seabed off South Taranaki and export five million tonnes of ironsand every year for 35 years.

KASM today announced it would be appealing the decision under 15 points of law, under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012, including “failing to take into account natural justice”, to apply environmental bottom lines, to take a precautionary approach, and to require “adequate information” from TTR.

KASM has called for the High Court to set the decision aside.

“We have gone through the nearly 400-page decision and we think the EPA has erred on a number of points of law, right across its decision,” KASM chairperson Cindy Baxter said.

“KASM is appealing because the EPA made a bad decision, a decision that we believe is wrong in law as well as in principle – and we have seen an overwhelming response against it.”

Forest & Bird today also announced it has lodged an appeal in the High Court.

“The EEZ Act recognises that seabed mining could have significant impacts on the marine environment, and requires protection from such impacts,” the group’s chief executive, Kevin Hague, said.

“We think the EPA’s decision to grant consent fails to protect the environment, and doesn’t meet the requirements of the EEZ Act.”

Ngati Ruanui is also among several groups that have opposed the EPA’s decision.

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NZ Greens propose marine sanctuary to stop seabed mining off South Taranaki 

A large crowd including many students welcomed the Green Party announcement for plans of a new marine sanctuary in South Taranaki. GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Catherine Groenestein | Stuff NZ | 29 August, 2017

The Green Party wants to stop seabed mining by creating an enormous new marine mammal sanctuary off the Taranaki coast.

Green Party leader James Shaw announced the plan at a Hawera beach when he, MP Gareth Hughes and Te Tai Hauauru candidate Jack McDonald joined a seabed mining protest by more than 200 people on Tuesday.

The South Taranaki Whale Sanctuary would prohibit new prospecting, exploration and mining for minerals, but existing petroleum wells would be allowed to continue to operate until their permits expired.

The controversial Environmental Protection Agency decision allowing Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) to dredge 50 million tonnes of sand a year from the seabed off Patea would be stopped.

Fishing would be allowed to continue in the area, whereas the seabed mining would disrupt fishing activities and was opposed by the commercial operators, Shaw said.

“Seabed mining vacuums up the seabed, filters out minerals and dumps the mud back into the ocean. For the whales it’s like someone dumping the contents of a vacuum cleaner on their plates.”

The South Taranaki Bight is home to 38 different mammals, including blue whales and the highly endangered Maui’s dolphins.

“At around 30,000 square km, or fifty times the size of Lake Taupo,  this will be New Zealand’s largest marine mammal sanctuary.”

The sanctuary would stretch from Foxton north to Hawera, and west to Kahurangi Point near the top of the South Island, covering the area where blue whales were most commonly seen.

The protest, organised by the community of  Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Ruanui, began with songs from the youngsters, and ended with a heartfelt haka, then the participants formed a human chain around the grassy reserve above the beach.

Principal Mama Kumeroa said she felt overwhelmed by the number of people, who had answered her call for support.

“There are representatives here from every school, every kindergarten and educational institution in Hawera. These little ones are going to be the caretakers of the future, these young people will grow up and see this seabed mining happening, and it’s going to take three or four generations ahead of us to clean it up. If companies want to do this mining they should do it in their own backyard. This is our backyard.”

Ngati Ruanui kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said the iwi was pleased with the Green Party initiative.

 “We are pleased to see the Greens thinking outside the square. It gives us hope that there’s some better options out there. Hopefully the other parties will be just as innovative.”

Ngati Ruanui is preparing to lodge its appeal against the application later this week.

Maori Party candidate for Te Tai Hauauru Howie Tamati said he supported the idea of a marine sanctuary.

“I’m still upset at the decision of the EPA to let the iron-sand mining go ahead considering all of the evidence that was there to say it would have a huge impact on the sea life in the area.”

Labour candidate for Whanganui Steph Lewis said not enough information had been provided on the effects of  the TTR operation, which could run over 35 years.

“I’m not convinced the jobs it is allegedly going to create will go to people in Patea, there’s not enough evidence to support it and real big concerns about the environmental impact.”

In its application, TTR has said it would be “a sustainable and world leading development” that would have little environmental effect.

But the venture is opposed by Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Patea-based iwi Ngati Ruanui, environmental groups Greenpeace and Forest & Bird, and by Talley’s Fisheries which also submitted against the mining when a previous application by TTR was declined by the EPA in 2014.

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Five voice fears on seabed mining to conservation board in NZ

Tanea Tangaroa and Rae Ranginui speak at the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board public forum. Photo/ Laurel Stowell

“In reality the biggest pests are the humans. We are the only ones that will destroy our own habitat.”

Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | 27 August, 2017

It was strongly urged to appeal against seabed mining happening in South Taranaki waters.A passionate young person and four equally heartfelt others poured out complaints to the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board on Thursday.

The group of five spoke at the public forum part of the board’s meeting in Whanganui. They wanted the board to appeal against the Environmental Protection Authority’s decision to allow the mining.

Board members received independent legal advice on a possible appeal during the day, and also met with representatives of the Office of Treaty Settlements.

The five had a list of complaints against the Conservation Department (DOC). Tanea Tangaroa was devastated DOC hadn’t objected to the mining application.

And she said a 1080 aerial poison drop in the Ruapehu District this week had traumatised people and led to an alternative water source being offered to Ohura residents.

She asked whether a law change allowing mining on conservation land could affect land here, and said the legal assistance available for people objecting to developments has been reduced.

“For us, it’s hard enough as it is.”

When DOC didn’t make a submission on the seabed mining application, Rae Ranginui lost respect for its integrity

“I believe they are here to serve corporates,” she said.

Te Huatahi Hawira “spilled out her heart” in a long speech that included the mining issue, 1080 and another possum poison, myrtle rust, kauri dieback and Whanganui’s port development.

She said her ancestors’ ashes were in the port area and she couldn’t even go there.

“In reality the biggest pests are the humans. We are the only ones that will destroy our own habitat.”

Board chairman Te Tiwha Puketapu noted their complaints. The board’s role was to promote conservation and give “thoughtful advocacy”, he said.

It hadn’t decided whether to oppose the seabed mining consent.

DOC operations director for this region, David Speirs, said the department did not have a fixed position on seabed mining and looked at each case on its merits.

In the case of Trans-Tasman Resources, which wants to mine in South Taranaki waters, it decided to oppose the company’s first application. Its second application had some changes.

“The department decided that, to the extent it had legal mandate, it couldn’t make any gains by making a submission. It left the matter to the EPA to consider,” Mr Speirs said.

He had never met with anyone from the company.

DOC had personally apologised to the board, Nga Rauru and Ngati Ruanui for not letting them know it would not make a submission. It had talked with each about how to do things better.

“We don’t like not doing our job,” Mr Speirs said.

On 1080, a DOC spokesman said that toxin was the most researched in New Zealand for more than 40 years. It had saved kakapo and other birds from extinction.

“If we had something better, we would use it. But we do not.”

Mr Puketapu said it was clear that views on 1080 were polarised.

“We are not trying to convince each other that the other one is right. We just have to make sure we are being heard.”

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Who is standing up for the seabed in NZ?

Paul Brooks | Wanganui Chronicle Editorial | 24 August, 2017

THE SEABED mining dispute in South Taranaki has many of us wondering exactly what constitutes the role of the Environmental Protection Authority and its large staff of former politicians, accountants and the odd person actually versed in environmental matters.

Its decision to allow seabed mining of ironsands in an ecologically sensitive area highlights its political — as opposed to its environmental — nature. Its title is an oxymoron.

It is also worth noting that the decision by the committee appointed by the EPA was split, two for approving the application and two against it, with the casting vote made by chairman Alick Shaw, a former politician and professional committee member.

To quote from the EPA website:

“Mr Shaw is currently a member of the Housing New Zealand Board and the New Zealand Parole Board (until the end of September 2016). He completed two terms as a board member for the New Zealand Transport Agency. Mr Shaw has held numerous positions on a variety of governance boards, and is a former Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Wellington City Council.”

And his knowledge of the seabed and consequences of its destruction come from … ?

It was his decision to allow seabed mining to go ahead.

That decision went against the wishes of the people who live in the affected area, the people who are protesting and putting a legitimate case against the mining proposal. To suggest their petitions and submissions were taken into account before the decision was made is, in the vernacular, bollocks. The decision was political.

It was made by a committee appointed by an agency run by a Government which has systematically withdrawn funding from environmental protection and conservation.

That decision was a foregone conclusion despite the well-paid months the committee sat and pondered.

The promises of jobs and local prosperity, even if true, mean nothing in comparison with the environmental damage to the region and the pillage of valuable breeding grounds.

But who is listening?

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Rabaul leaders voice opposition to experimental seabed mining

Seabed mining plans spark environmental concerns in Rabaul

The National aka The Loggers Times | August 23, 2017

LEADERS of Rabaul district in East New Britain want the Nautilus Minerals Explorations Limited to provide evidence that the proposed Solwara One seabed mining operation will not destroy environment and marine resources.

They are concerned about a potential impact on the coastal areas of New Ireland and East New Britain.

A committee which met at the office of Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat on  Thursday raised the concern in response to the intention by the company to carry out community projects on Watom Island and on the north coast of the Gazelle Peninsula.

Rabaul district administrator Marakan Uvano said Nautilus planned to build health facilities on the island and on the north coast of Rabaul as part of its services to the people who would be affected by the deep-sea mining operations.

Uvano said the company was already delivering health facilities in strategic locations along the west coast of New Ireland.

Statesman Sir Ronald Tovue urged the committee to voice its objection to seabed mining activities in the Bismarck Sea.

Marat has maintained his objection to under-sea mining operations since Nautilus applied to the government for mineral exploration rights in the Bismarck Sea which covered New Britain and New Ireland.

Marat warned that the safety of the livelihood of the coastal people of Rabaul would be affected if the Solwara One project was allowed to proceed.

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Samoa cautioned about experimental seabed mining

S.U.N.G.O. PRESIDENT: Roina Vavatau.

Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu  | Samoa Observer | 20 August 2017

Experimental deep-sea mining is on the agenda for a five-day National Focus Group Dialogue hosted by the Samoa Umbrella for Non-Governmental Organizations (S.U.N.G.O.) which starts today.

But S.U.N.G.O. President, Roina Vavatau, believes Samoa needs to proceed with caution.

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, the President of S.U.N.G.O said Samoa should not be easily enticed by the millions promised if they opt to support deep-sea mining activities. 

“The money is very attractive however we have to consider the social impact of deep sea mining on us,” she said. “This is our livelihood, everyone depends on the ocean and if this deal comes to pass, what is going to happen to us.” 

Mrs. Vavatau urges the public to come as one and voice the rejection of Samoa to be a part of deep-sea mining activities. 

“Although the P.A.C.E.R Plus has been signed… however unless a total of eight Pacific countries do not sign on, there is no deep sea mining in our oceans.”

To be held at Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi conventional centre, the meeting will focus on disability; climate change; Sustainable Development Goals; Land Act and Laws and Deep Sea Mining. 

“These topics will form the basis of dialogue throughout the week,” she said.

 “Experts in these identified areas have been invited to provide information and guidance throughout the week to ensure participants are well informed in the approach to formulate Position Papers and Action Plans that S.U.N.G.O. will advocate on behalf of Samoa’s Civil Societies.”

The President invited members of the public so they can be informed about the conversations around the topics.

 “There will be representatives from government agencies whose mandates deal with the issues discussed as stated earlier.” 

According to Mrs. Vavatau, their main goal is to afford the public the opportunity to gain knowledge of the said topics. 

“That way they can make informed decisions when they come across these issues.” 

Last year, a World Bank report recommended that Pacific Island countries supporting or considering deep-sea mining activities proceed with a high degree of caution to avoid irreversible damage to the ecosystem, and ensure that appropriate social and environmental safeguards are in place as part of strong governance arrangements for this emerging industry.

The report says that Deep sea exploration of minerals and resources is increasing across the globe, but its short and long-term impacts on the environment, economy and society in general remain largely unknown, according to the report, Pacific Possible: Precautionary Management of Deep Sea Mining Potential in Pacific Island Countries.

“Given the immense uncertainty, deep sea mining in Pacific Island countries should be approached with the highest degree of caution and transparency,” said Tijen Arin, Senior Environmental Economist and co-author of the paper. 

“Work in this space is already progressing in many countries, and progress has been made in legislation, but strengthening and increasing institutional capacity still remains a significant challenge and therefore we recommend stronger regional cooperation in this area.”

Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu have granted permits for deep-sea mining exploration, and the Cook Islands undertook a minerals exploration tender process. 

So far, Papua New Guinea is the only country in the Pacific region to have granted a license for ocean floor mining. 

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Legal battle looms over seabed mining

Simon Hartley | Otago Daily Times | 16 August 2017

The gloves are coming off as mining interest groups and environmentalists prepare for a legal battle over consenting issues.

Similar legal challenges to Bathurst Resources’ coal mining consents on the West Coast dragged on for two years and the global coal price collapsed, forcing Bathurst to mothball much of its proposed operations.

Mining industry lobby group Straterra has applauded the granting of marine consents for Trans Tasman Resources to move towards ironsand extraction from Taranaki’s seabed.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) granted the consents last week, but environmental groups vowed to lodge appeals within the 15-day appeal period.

Submitting group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) had said it would appeal and yesterday said its lawyers were working on an appeal, spokeswoman Cindy Baxter said.

”Apart from the fact that we consider this decision very flawed, and that such a huge operation with potentially devastating consequences only got the go-ahead because the chair of the committee had two votes, we have to look at the precedent it sets,” she said in a statement.

Straterra chief executive Chris Baker said the EPA’s decision making committees’s decision sent a strong signal to extractive sector investors ”that New Zealand is open for business”.

”The [decision] committee had to satisfy itself, on best available information, that effects can be well managed,” Mr Baker said.

Ms Baxter said after Trans Tasman’s first application was refused in 2014, many of the companies with permits on North Island coasts subsequently dropped them.

She said Trans Tasman’s application failed on several fronts, saying there were no surveys or studies on any marine mammals, penguins, fairy prion petrels or bottom dwelling organisms, nor measurement of existing ambient noise; which was an issue for marine mammals.

”They made no effort to undertake any baseline monitoring of the seabed, despite the lack of it being one of the grounds the EPA refused their first application,” Ms Baxter said.

Mr Baker noted more than 100 conditions were imposed on Trans Tasman, including a two-year monitoring plan before mining could take place.

Trans Tasman’s two applications and ongoing research and development costs are now understood to have cost it a total about $86million.

Trans Tasman wants to suction dredge about 50million tonnes of sands from the seabed annually, to extract 5million tonnes of ironsands, for the next 35 years.

More than 13,000 people opposed the application. Much of the opposition centres on the effects from the ”plume” of sands when being returned to the seabed.

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