Tag Archives: Trans-Tasman Resources

Release full NZ seabed mining application, opponents demand


Kasm’s Phil McCabe says the redacted pages in Trans-Tasman Resources application should be released to the public.

Robin Martin | Radio NZ | 27 September 2016

Trans-Tasman Resources has applied to the Environmental Protection Agency to mine 50 millions tonnes of ironsand a year off the coast of Patea. Opponents of a proposed seabed mining operation in Taranaki are demanding the release of blacked out pages in its resource consents application.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (Kasm) chairman Phil McCabe said it was unacceptable that the company’s application was shrouded in secrecy.

Trans-Tasman had a similar application turned down in 2014 because the EPA decided not enough consideration had been given to the environmental affects of the operation.

Mr McCabe told a small gathering of supporters in New Plymouth last night that the lack of transparency in the firm’s latest bid was disturbing.

“This is a publicly-owned resource, it’s in public space, this is a public process and there’s no room for secrecy here. They’ve got to front up with the information and let people make a fair assessment.”

The mining opponents fear life on the affected seabed will be destroyed and the plume created by mining will be detrimental to all marine life in the area, including foraging blue whales.

Mr McCabe said there was nothing new in the current application apart from the blanked out pages.

“TTR’s come back with the same application that was prove two years ago that it wasn’t acceptable by the EPA. The community stood up in bulk, en masse, to oppose it and now they’ve come back to drag us through the process again and we don’t see much different about it this time around.”

South Taranaki iwi Ngati Ruanui is also opposing the project.

Its kaiarataki, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, said Trans-Tasman Resources was demanding that anyone wanting to see the redacted material sign a draconian confidentiality agreement which prevented getting outside advice on the contents, meaning access to the pages was meaningless.

“It’s just not right in 2016 for us as iwi, and certainly for us as Kiwis, to be treated like this by a company who has never done any type of activity like this in our country, and to have such difficulty getting the type of information that normal companies, normal energy companies, bring in by the boxload.”

Ms Ngarewa-Packer said Ngati Ruanui was very concerned about the application and had the backing of all Taranaki iwi.

“It’s damn alarming when they have to put 40 plus pages into redaction … basically blacked out.

“My management team in the environmental unit have 25 plus years’ experience and they’ve never seen anything to this extent before.”

In a statement, Trans-Tasman Resources said it was not being deliberately obstructive.

“A small proportion of the reports are confidential because its commercial and operational information; all of the redacted information is highly technical.

“Interested parties or their appointed experts are able to access this information by signing a confidentiality agreement – and the Department of Conservation, Taranaki Regional Council, the Iwi Fisheries Forum and commercial fishing groups have all done so.”

The company said it wanted everyone benefit from project that would create 1600 jobs, 700 in the region, and generate export earnings of more than $300 million a year.

Public submissions on the project close on 14 October.

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NZ: Moratorium on seabed mining needed

“Seabed mining should be considered a novel experimental activity”


Gareth Hughes MP| NZ Greens | 19 September, 2016

Today at Parliament, I accepted a petition signed by more than 6,000 people calling for a moratorium on seabed mining. This is also the day Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR) second application attempt to mine the seabed of the South Taranaki Bight opens for the twenty days of submissions period under the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) rules.

It was fantastic to see the petition organised from Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), who have led the successful campaigns that saw TTR’s first application and Chatham Rock Phosphate’s seabed mining applications declined by the EPA. Three busloads of local iwi Ngāti Ruanui also travelled down from Patea for the event and they say consultation with TTR has been flawed. This company is applying for consent to suck up 50 million tonnes of seabed, extract the iron ore and dump 45 million tonnes of sediment back.

This is in the feeding ground of the world’s largest whale and the habitat for the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin so it’s no surprise there’s huge opposition. Last time TTR tried, only 8 of the of the 4800 submissions to the EPA supported the mining.

Seabed mining is a controversial new activity. The two applications to date were rejected by the EPA because of environmental impacts and scientific uncertainties. One thing that has stuck in my head from the last process was the Rumsfeldian quote ‘the uncertainties around the uncertainties is uncertain’. This is an entirely new field, apart from a little shallow water diamond mining. Seabed mining should be considered a novel experimental activity.

Both Australia’s Northern Territory and Namibia, who have grappled with seabed mining, have instigated moratoria. I support KASM’s call for the Government to place a moratorium on the activity here. We have the fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world and with huge scientific uncertainties surrounding seabed mining, it’s responsible to wait and to learn more before risking our marine ecosystem and fisheries. I’d contend it’s better for the companies interested in undertaking seabed mining too, as consent applications can cost millions of dollars, so a delay and more research benefits everyone.

The petition will be referred to a select committee to consider and with only twenty days to make a submission on TTR’s application, I hope you can make one.

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New Zealand Iwi bracing for another fight against seabed mining


New Zealand’s Parliament House where Iwi will protest against experimental seabed mining

Isaac Davison | NZ Herald | September 18, 2016

Iwi members will arrive in their busloads on Parliament’s front steps tomorrow to protest a mining company’s latest bid to scour the seabed off the coast of the North Island for iron ore.

A hikoi led by Taranaki iwi Ngati Ruanui and environmental advocates will deliver a 6000-signature petition to MPs, calling for a moratorium on all seabed mining in New Zealand.

The petition comes as mining company Trans Tasman Resources makes its second attempt to get approval to mine ironsands on the South Taranaki Bight, around 30km off the west coast of the North Island.

The company’s application was notified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday, meaning the public has 20 days to make submissions.

No application to mine on New Zealand’s seabed has succeeded. Trans Tasman’s first bid failed in 2014 after the EPA raised concerns about the impact on the environment, iwi and fishing interests, and its economic benefits.

The EPA also said the company’s proposal was “premature” and that it should have done further work on understanding the environment and engaging with local residents.

Trans Tasman now believes it has addressed those gaps.

Executive chairman Alan Eggers said the company had carried out additional research to refine the environmental aspects of its application, and had met with “a wide range of stakeholders”.

The group travelling to Parliament tomorrow believes little has changed.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining spokesman Phil McCabe said the method of mining was still experimental and damaging.

“It’s inherently a destructive activity. If you’re looking at deep-sea oil, you’re poking a needle through the bottom of the ocean.

“But in this one, the moment they start, they’re breaking stuff. There’s sensitive habitats out there.”

It was frustrating and exhausting to have to fight the company a second time, McCabe said.

Hikoi leader Debbie Ngawera-Packer said her iwi and residents of Patea, near the proposed mining site, did did not protest lightly.

“This is a real humble community that doesn’t mobilise like that.

“They live off an average of $17,000 a year. They are used to going without and things not going their way.

“So when they mobilise it’s because they feel there’s a real injustice.”

Trans Tasman is seeking approval to extract 50 million tonnes of seabed material a year, of which 45 tonnes would be returned after the iron ore was extracted.

It estimates that the mining project would boost export earnings by $300m a year and would support up to 1650 jobs – 300 in the immediate region.

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Another seabed mining bid in New Zealand

Chatham Rise

Simon Hartley | Otago Daily Times | 12 September 2016

Chatham Rock Phosphate expects to rejoin the permitting fray surrounding seabed mining, with expectations it will make a second application to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) next year.

Seabed mining is back on the mining agenda, and environmentalists’ watchlists, after Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) reapplied a fortnight ago for its environmental permit to take ironsand from Taranaki’s sea floor, at depths of up to 40m.

Environmental group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining has vowed to again fight the proposal, having mobilised thousands of people to protest during the first application.

TTR had spent $66million in research and development and Chatham Rock spent more than $30million, but both had their first applications turned down by the EPA.

In a presentation to the annual mining conference of the New Zealand branch of the Australian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy in Wellington  last week, Robin Falconer, a consultant and director of Chatham Rock Phosphate outlined the process so far.

Chatham Rock wants to suction up phosphate nodules from the sea floor at depths up to 450m on the top of the Chatham Rise, taking 1.5million tonnes a year.

Mr Falconer remained adamant the Chatham Rise phosphate was a “strategic” for New Zealand’s economy, in displacing imported Moroccan phosphate and potentially as an export earner.

Although separate projects, Mr Falconer said Chatham had been working with TTR and would continue to do so.

“We’ll wait and see how TTR gets on on,” Mr Falconer said of its application, which is yet to be formally accepted by the EPA, and will then be publicly notified.

When asked in question time, Mr Falconer said Chatham intended to reapply to the EPA in mid-2017.

“We have the capital to see us through and meet our commitments,” he said.

In July, a share purchase plan for Chatham Rock was oversubscribed and it raised $616,000, plus issued 8.74million shares to qualified investors, reaping  $52,500 more.

Mr Falconer noted that while “finance is hard to get” at present, he was still adamant  “this is still a doable project,” and could be operational by 2020.

In an earlier presentation at the conference,  the EPA  warned applicants in general that simply filing volumes of work and research  was not adequate, and parties had to do more to prove how mitigation procedures, and outcomes, would work.

There is a question of the plume created by seabed mining on the sea floor, and the plume on the surface if spoil was tipped off the ship.

Chatham’s design work to date is not to release tailings from a ship, but release them 10m above the sea floor.

Mr Falconer said “We could do more plume work, but that would just be moving a decimal point to already world-class results.”

The discovery of beds of coral on the seabed around the Chatham Rise had raised concerns.

“We could spend $2million to $3million on just looking at coral distribution,” Mr Falconer said.

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NZ seabed mining company slammed as ‘arrogant’ by South Taranaki iwi

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining chair Phil McCabe said TTR's claims the sea floor was a desert have been proven inaccurate.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining chair Phil McCabe said TTR’s claims the sea floor was a desert have been proven inaccurate.

Jeremy Wilkinson | Stuff | 2 September 2016

Iwi have labelled a seabed mining company “arrogant” and slammed their consultation process in applying to mine offshore in South Taranaki.

For the second time in as many years Trans Tasman Resources have applied for consent to annually mine 50 million tonnes of sand from the seabed off the South Taranaki coast.

The Environmental Protection Authority denied the company’s application in 2014 deeming the effects of uplifting so much sand would have an unknown effect on the environment. TTR applied again to mine the seabed on August 23 this year.

The 66 square kilometres off the South Taranaki coast where Trans Tasman Resources have applied to mine iron ore.

The 66 square kilometres off the South Taranaki coast where Trans Tasman Resources have applied to mine iron ore.

Now kaiarataki of Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has said she, and her iwi, were extremely disappointed with the way TTR had gone about consulting with them in their re-application.

“From our perspective there has been extremely poor consultation from their end,” she said.

“There’s a high degree of arrogance from that company in that want us to clear their application on our end, but won’t show us their science.”

Ngarewa-Packer said Taranaki iwi dealt extensively with oil and gas companies and had never before been kept so in the dark.

“We’ve never had a problem like this before, companies we usually deal with are falling over themselves to give us as much information as possible,” she said.

“This is the exact opposite, they’re saying it won’t have any effect on the seabed but refuse to prove it to us.”

The 66 square kilometre area TTR want to mine was last week described as a “vast expanse of sand” by the company, however a recent report tabled at the Taranaki Regional Council on Thursday indicated a variety of life on the sea floor.

The report, conducted by the Cawthron Institute, found there were no threatened species within the 12 mile Coastal Marine Area (CMA) but further offshore within the Exclusive Economic Zone where TTR have applied to mine, there are at least five threatened species of invertebrate.

While the Taranaki Regional Council has no jurisdiction in the EEZ they do have a say on activities which can affect the CMA.

Councillor Craig Williamson said when the TTR appeared before the council several years ago their presentation was that it was pretty much just mud and sand.

“Now I’m looking at this report which says there’s a huge cluster of life that needed to be protected right in the very zone they are planning on sand mining,” he said.

“In my opinion any adverse effect is too much of an effect, and I’m hoping that’s the position the EPA will take.”

However, a spokesperson for TTR  said the Cawthron report focused on marine life within the council’s jurisdiction and referenced data commissioned by the TTR.

They also said the company had done extensive work to limit the spread of the sand plume.

“This has included controlled deposition of the de-ored sediment 4 metres above the seabed into areas from which the sediment was extracted,” they said.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) chairperson Phil McCabe said the Cawthron report was damning for TTR’s latest application.

“The miners say this area is a ‘virtual desert’, yet here we have scientists telling us quite the opposite,” he said.

“Many people are simply unaware of how much life exists on the sea floor, and how important that life is to maintain a healthy marine envrionment.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has until Tuesday September 6 to decide whether TTR’s application is complete.

From there the public will be notified and have 20 days to make submissions.

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NZ: Sensitive marine habitats near proposed seabed mining area

taranaki coast

Radio New Zealand

A report has found that 158 unique species and sensitive marine habitats exist off the Taranaki coast in an area bordering a proposed seabed mining operation.

Taranaki Regional Council commissioned the Cawthron Institute to investigate the region’s coastal marine area as it prepares a new management plan.

It found as well as unique species, the area included valuable kelp and sponge gardens, and was more significant than previously thought.

Trans Tasman Resources has re-applied to the Environmental Protection Authority for resource consents to mine millions of tonnes of iron sands off the Taranaki coast.

The company’s initial application was rejected in 2014 because it did not consider the wider effect on the environment.

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NZ government to weaken laws to allow seabed mining

rip seabed mining

Law change could influence decisions on destructive seabed mining

Green Party | Scoop | 25 August 2016

The National Government’s proposed changes to the law governing seabed mining could make it easier for Trans-Tasman Resources to carry out destructive seabed mining off the South Taranaki coast, the Green Party said today.

Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) has re-applied to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to mine the seabed off the South Taranaki coast for iron ore, despite its previous application being declined by the EPA.

“The Government’s Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, currently before Parliament, will allow the Minister, rather than the independent EPA, to appoint the panel that considers seabed mining applications,” said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“This proposed law change means that National can handpick the people who decide on controversial and high-impact activities like seabed mining and oil and gas drilling.

“The changes in the Bill are clearly an attempt to politicise decision-making and give the Minister greater influence.

“The National Government appears to have proposed this law change after strong lobbying from the mining industry following the original EPA decision to decline TTR’s application to mine the seabed off South Taranaki.

“There was huge public opposition to TTR’s earlier South Taranaki proposal because of the destructive and experimental nature of seabed mining. Nothing has changed since the EPA declined that application which would now justify mining proceeding.

“It is disappointing that the community will once again have to put significant time and energy into mobilising its resources and expertise to make submissions and present evidence to protect the seabed and coastal and marine environment.

“Seabed mining would generate major sediment plumes, and threatens the habitat of Maui’s dolphin and other mammals and marine life,” said Ms Sage.

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