Tag Archives: Trans-Tasman Resources

13,700 have a say on NZ seabed mining application

no-seabed-mining

Wanganui Chronicle | 17 January 2017

Environmental Protection Authority staff have finished counting all the submissions made on Trans-Tasman Resources’ applications to mine the South Taranaki seabed for ironsand.

There are 13,733 submissions, now listed alphabetically on the authority’s website, but not yet analysed.

A note from the authority says the Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui submission included a petition. Its signatories were not counted as individual submitters.

It also says some submitters did not include all the information required on the authority’s online submission form. In some cases the need for that information has been waived, and those submissions will be considered.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, New Zealand

NZ Seabed mining opponents want a say

Rochelle Bullock, left, liaises with Phil McCabe and Wanda Barker from Kiwis Again Seabed Mining

Rochelle Bullock, left, liaises with Phil McCabe and Wanda Barker from Kiwis Again Seabed Mining

Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | January 11, 2017

The Environmental Protection Authority has failed on two counts in the lead-up to hearings on Trans-Tasman Resources’ application to mine the South Taranaki seabed, Rochelle Bullock says.

Trans-Tasman Resources wants marine consents to mine nearly 66 square kilometres of seabed offshore from Patea. Hearings on the matter begin next month.

Ms Bullock liaised between opponent groups during Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR’s) last applications in 2013 and is doing so again. Opponents include iwi from the region, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and others.

The authority (EPA) has failed to keep in touch with submitters and also failed to hold hearings in the places where most of those who want to speak live, Ms Bullock claims.

Anyone who wants to speak during the hearings must contact the EPA before noon today to let it know. Otherwise they will not be able to speak.

Ms Bullock said that last time all the submitters were warned of the deadline by email, but that hasn’t happened this time. She was desperately trying to get the word out yesterday.

She also said it was not logical or ethical to hold hearings only in Wellington and New Plymouth. Submitters had asked for hearings in the places that would be most affected by the mining – from Patea south toward Whanganui.

Hearings for TTR’s first application were held in several places in 2013, including Pariroa Marae near Kakaramea and at the Wanganui District Council.

KASM says there have been 17,000 submissions to the applications. A spokeswoman for the EPA could not confirm this, saying as they were still being counted.

The “highest density” of people who wanted to speak at the hearings was in Whanganui, Ms Bullock said. The EPA could not confirm that either.

When Ms Bullock rang the EPA to ask why the hearings would only be in Wellington and New Plymouth, she was told those locations were more accessible and had venues.

She told the staff member there was no lack of venues in Whanganui. “It’s very unfair to expect a whole community to travel to Wellington or New Plymouth. [The hearings] should be held in the place of the people directly affected. There seems something very obviously wrong when you choose not to go to the people that are submitting,” she said.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, New Zealand

NZ Anti-seabed mining group claims record level of support

The application for seabed mining in Taranaki has proved controversial.

The application for seabed mining in Taranaki has proved controversial.

Andrew Owen |  Taranaki Daily News | 12 December 2016

The group fighting plans to mine millions of tonnes of sand off the South Taranaki coast is claiming record numbers of people have backed its campaign.

Monday was the final day for public submissions on Trans Tasman Resources’ bid to mine iron ore from 50 million tonnes of sand in a 66 square kilometre area off the coast of Patea, a move all eight Taranaki iwi have opposed.

Campaign group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining claimed it and Greenpeace would achieve a record 17,000 submissions against the plans when the 5pm deadline passed, ahead of an Environmental Protection Agency hearing set to take place next year.

“Last time Trans Tasman Resources tried – and failed – to gain approval for a similar proposal, the EPA received more than 4,600 submissions against it – which was a record at that time,”  said KASM chairperson Phil McCabe.

“We have blown that record out of the water, proving that opposition to seabed mining has grown exponentially.

“Our focus now turns to the expert evidence against this proposal, and the hearing itself.

“We cannot let this proposal go ahead, as it would create a precedent for other mining proposals, not only on the North Island’s West Coast, but also a proposal off Waihi Beach.  

“New Zealand would be the first place in the world to allow seabed mining on such a large scale, but it’s very clear this flies in the face of public opinion.”  

TTR has claimed allowing the mining to go ahead would create 1666 jobs, including 299 in South Taranaki and Whanganui and 700 in the region, although opponents dispute its figures.

3 Comments

Filed under Environmental impact, New Zealand

Public Right to be Informed on Experimental Seabed Mining

stop experimental seabed mining poster

Scoop | 22 November 2016

NGOs and civil society in Papua New Guinea demand that the PNG government and Nautilus Minerals make public key documents relating to the licensing of the Solwara 1 deep sea mining project. This follows a recent decision from the New Zealand Environment Court calling for transparency of seabed mining.

Jonathan Mesulam, Alliance of Solwara Warriors said, “We congratulate and stand in solidarity with New Zealand’s victory for the public’s right to information. We have been arguing for this same right in PNG for many years in regards to experimental seabed mining.”

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, with the support of Taranaki iwi Ngati Ruanui and Talleys Fisheries Group, had a significant win in the New Zealand Environment court earlier this month against a secretive seabed mining application. It was ruled that the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and seabed mining company, Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) must release hundreds of blacked-out documents from TTR’s application on the grounds of transparency.

Natalie Lowrey, Deep Sea Mining campaign said, “Very little information about the Solwara 1 project has been disclosed by the PNG Government or the project developer, Nautilus Minerals. Papua New Guineans have a right to see this information especially as their Government has invested heavily as a shareholder in this project. In the interest of transparency and informed debate the PNG Government and Nautilus should release the information requested by PNG civil society for the past four years.”[1]

The New Zealand Environment court Judge stated, “Ultimately we conclude that the crucial nature of the sensitive information … when combined with the public’s right to participate effectively in the consent process, outweigh any trade secret or business prejudice interest of Trans-Tasman by a considerable margin.”

Christina Tony, Bismarck Ramu Group in Papua New Guinea said, “As in New Zealand, there is a high level of community concern in PNG about experimental seabed mining. This should result in equally high levels of transparency from both the PNG government and Nautilus Minerals. Especially since this is the world’s first venture of this kind and our people are feeling like guinea pigs. Public access to information allows Papua New Guineans to better understand the potential environmental and social impacts of the Solwara 1 project.”

“Nautilus does not have the consent of local communities. We still don’t know what the impacts of this experimental mining will be. Furthermore, the Solwara 1 site is right in the middle of our traditional fishing grounds”said Mr. Mesulam.

“We are united in our fight against any destruction of our seas, culture and livelihoods. We are a strong and committed alliance demandingseabed mining to be banned.”

[1] In 2012 the Deep Sea Mining campaign sent a letter to PNG PM Peter O’Neill requesting the release of key documents relating to the Solwara 1 seabed mining project. No response was received and those documents are still not in the public domain. View letter here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Environment Court rules seabed mining company must release blacked-out documents

Redacted pages from TTR's mining application

Redacted pages from TTR’s mining application

Jeremy Wilkinson | Stuff NZ | November 8, 2016

A seabed mining company will be forced to reveal hundreds of pages of blacked-out information following a ruling by the Environment Court.

Trans Tasman Resources has applied to mine a section of seabed off the coast of South Taranaki of 50 million tonnes of sand per year, and extract the iron ore using a giant magnet.

The company applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for permission to conduct the mining and has submitted a lengthy application, some of which the EPA withheld from the public on the grounds it was commercial sensitive.

However, conservation group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Taranaki iwi Ngati Ruanui and Talleys Fisheries Group took the authority to the Environment Court, claiming that the public could not make a submission on the proposal without having unfettered access to the whole application.

On Tuesday in Wellington the court ruled in favour of Kasm, Ngati Ruanui and Talleys, meaning the blacked-out sections of the application will be made public.

In his decision, Judge Brian Dwyer said he did not consider the information a trade secret and the public interest outweighed that of Trans Tasman Resources.

The company said it would release all the redacted information as soon as possible.

The EPA had already bowed to pressure from Kasm and Ngati Ruanui and extended the submission period on the application by two weeks, but they declined to release the redacted information in October, which sparked the legal action.

Kasm’s chairman Phil McCabe said the decision was a massive win for the group.

“The court ruled that public interest outweighed any trade secret by a considerable margin,” he said.

“Yes having this information is important but I think the bigger win is confronting the issue of transparency.”

McCabe said TTR had bullied the EPA into allowing certain parts of its application to remain secret.

“Secrecy is not okay particularly in a public process about a publicly owned resource,” he said.

Ngati Ruanui general manager Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said Environment Court had “done the right thing”.

“To be honest it was quite a nerve-racking process, we didn’t know which way the judge would go,” she said.

“TTR should have done the right thing a long time ago, they shouldn’t have forced three parties to come together and oppose this.”

Ngarewa-Packer said the iwi wasn’t opposed to big business – they’ve worked with oil and gas companies for years – but transparency was lacking in TTR’s application.

However, Kasm and Ngati Ruanui aren’t stopping the fight there, they’re going to petition the EPA to again extend the submission period so the public had more time to view the newly released information.

A TTR spokesperson said it was inappropriate to comment on the EPA process and could not confirm whether they would appeal the court’s decision or not.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, New Zealand

NZ Activists take seabed miner to court

seabed-mining-protest

Simon Hartley | Otago Daily Times | 8 November 2016

The  first of what is likely to be many challenges by environmentalists against a seabed mining proposal started in the Environment Court yesterday, with Kiwis Against Seabed Mining taking Trans Tasman Resources to task over redacted documents.

Trans Tasman recently made its second application to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to mine the South Taranaki Bight seabed for iron sands. Its first application last year was declined by the EPA, after Trans Tasman spent $66million on research and development.

However, the basis for the court challenge by KASM was prompted after Trans Tasman was successful in lobbying the EPA to redact large swathes of its second application from public scrutiny.

While KASM has been mobilising thousands of individuals to make submissions on the application, its chairman Phil McCabe said yesterday Taranaki iwi Ngati Ruanui and Talley’s Fisheries had both made submissions supporting KASM’s case in the Environment Court.

Mr McCabe said the “hundreds of pages of redactions” included details of the content of the Bight’s seabed sediment, the modelling, and detail, of the sediment plume which would be spread across the Bight from seabed mining, as well as economic data.

“We were forced to take our case to the Environment Court because the redacted documents provide crucial information about the potential environmental impact of digging up 50 million tonnes of the seabed a year for 35 years,” Mr McCabe said in a statement.

Both Trans Tasman and separate seabed mining proposer Chatham Rock Phosphate had their respective first applications turned down by the EPA, meaning every step of the legal process becomes precedent-setting.

Mr McCabe noted no information was redacted in either Trans Tasman or Chatham’s first, unsuccessful, applications and saw no reason for that to have changed.

He said the redacted documents could only be viewed if a party signed a confidentiality agreement, which severely restricted distribution and discussion of the content and put signatories at risk of civil and criminal penalties if they breached that agreement.

The hearing is expected to last for two days.

In mid-October, the EPA extended the public submission period by a month to November 14, following requests for more information. The extension meant the formal application would now begin no later than January 31.

1 Comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, New Zealand

NZ DOC face backlash from Taranaki iwi for backing seabed mining company

seabed-mining-protest

“I just don’t understand how the heck DOC signed this off.”

Jeremy Wilkinson | Stuff NZ | October 28 2016

Backlash against the Department of Conservation is mounting after they gave the green light to a seabed mining company. 

Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) have applied to mine a 66 square kilometre area in South Taranaki of 50 million tonnes of iron-ore laden sand from the seabed per year. Their first application was rejected in 2014. 

The public can now make submissions for or against the mining application but DOC have chosen to refrain from submitting, saying in a statement that they’re satisfied all conservation measures have been met. 

One of Taranaki’s eight iwi – Ngati Ruanui – have said DOC’s decision not to submit may have cost the government a fast resolution to ongoing treaty settlements around Mt Taranaki with Ngati Ruanui and other iwi.

“There was no engagement, thats the real sadness in all of this, as treaty settlement partners we are supposed to work together,” Kaiarataki of Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said. 

TTR’s project overview video, explaining how the mining will work.

“They can ring and tell us when they’re releasing a kiwi but they can’t ring and tell us when they’re making a radical decision that will directly affect us.”

Ngarewa-Packer said as a result of DOC backing TTR and the lack of consultation the department had with iwi on the matter, treaty settlement negotiations in Taranaki with Ngati Ruanui would be impacted. 

“Our chair said at our last meeting after a unanimous call, that we will not go back into settlement with a government that endorses this type of activity.”

“This may have a huge follow on effect to other iwi engaged in settlement. I think they’ve underestimated the effect.

“I just don’t understand how the heck DOC signed this off.”

In TTR’s first application to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) DOC submitted against the company on the grounds more information was needed on the effects of mining-related noise on marine mammals and the potential destruction of habitat. 

A DOC spokesperson said the department had viewed TTR’s newest application to the EPA and its experts suggested several amendments to address effects on the marine environment.

“TTR accepted all the revised conditions and amendments to the monitoring and management plans requested and the department does not consider that further conservation gains will be made by submitting on the application,” the spokesperson said. 

DOC also highlighted several important differences between TTR’s first failed application and its current application in a report which stated TTR’s management conditions were “significantly more robust”.

One of the key reasons TTR’s first application was declined was due to a concern that sand stripped of iron ore wouldn’t return to the seafloor and would impact marine animals and organisms as a result.

DOC’s scientists concluded that fine sand would clump together and descend to the seafloor faster than originally thought, however Ngarewa-Packer said DOC were relying on theoretical data that hadn’t been tested in the field. 

A spokesperson for mining company Trans Tasman Resources said it would be inappropriate for the company to comment on EPA process. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights