Tag Archives: Trans-Tasman Resources

More groups join appeal against seabed mining in NZ

On August 20 more than 100 people went to Patea’s Mana Beach to protest against seabed mining.

Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | September 4, 2017

After much discussion the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board has taken the unusual step of appealing against consent for seabed mining offshore from Patea, chairman Brendon Te Tiwha Puketapu says.

This despite the Conservation Department it works with having made no submission on Trans-Tasman Resources’ application to mine iron-sand across 66 square kilometres in the South Taranaki Bight.

Having made no submission on the application, the department cannot appeal it. But the board did make a submission, opposing the consent, and can appeal.

It has been advised that there are points of law on which the consent can be appealed, and that they fall within the board’s conservation management functions.

The board will ask whether the consenting body, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), had the best available information to work from, whether it used the precautionary principle and whether the consent given falls within the scope of an adaptive management approach.

“It has also sought to clarify how the EPA should have taken into account the Resource Management Act and in particular the strong directives of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement,” Mr Puketapu said.

Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) has also appealed the consent. Chief executive Dion Tuuta said that it did so in support iwi of the area, and that seabed mining was an unproven industry and a risk to fisheries.

Taranaki iwi Ngāruahine borders Patea and Hawera iwi Ngāti Ruanui but is not appealing the consent. Its pou whakarae Will Edwards said it was completely opposed to the mining venture and would support other iwi in their fight against it.

“We will utilise different strategies at different points at different times. Not all of these are played out on Facebook, in court, or in front of cameras.”

Another five groups have filed appeals against the mining consent. They are Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining with Greenpeace in support, a fisheries group, Te Kāhui o Rauru and Forest & Bird.

The appeal period closed on Thursday and the appeals will be heard in the High Court.

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Five parties appeal NZ seabed mining decision

Trans-Tasman Resources proposes to use an undersea crawler to suck up iron-sand from the seabed. Graphic/ supplied

 Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | September 1, 2017

A “suck it and see” approach to the uncertainties of seabed mining is not good enough and is illegal – and that’s the essence of an appeal to the High Court.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) is appealing the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decision to allow Trans Tasman Resources to mine ironsand from the South Taranaki seabed.

KASM’s appeal to the High Court is on 15 points of law, new chairwoman Cindy Baxter said. One of them is that the EPA’s many conditions amount to an adaptive management approach.

Adaptive management is about changing the way an activity is managed in response to as-yet-unknown effects. KASM’s lawyers say such an approach is prohibited under government’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) legislation.

Another point KASM wishes to appeal on is the EPA’s failure to impose a bond on the mining company.

And it says the decision makers failed to apply caution and environmental protection or to take cumulative effects into account.

KASM is asking the court to overturn the decision.

Yesterday, the final day for appeals, Forest & Bird and Ngā Rauru joined KASM, Ngāti Ruanui and a collective of fisheries interests in making appeals. Ngāti Ruanui has employed distinguished lawyer Francis Cooke QC.

For South Taranaki iwi Ngā Rauru the decision to appeal was easy on cultural, environmental and ethical grounds, chairman Marty Davis said. But the legal challenge will be costly for the small tribe.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the EPA has decided to allow mining based on uncertain and inadequate information – especially about its effect on the 30 marine mammal species in the bight. The society was also concerned mining would affect the rich marine life in the Patea Shoals.

The decision making process was unfairly weighted toward the mining company, Ngā Rauru kaiwhakahaere Anne-Marie Broughton said.

“There is no legal assistance fund available to community, hapū and iwi groups to appeal the decision, unlike under the Resource Management Act.”

That put a cost on iwi and others, and was a deliberate strategy to disempower communities and support extractive industries, she said. Ngā Rauru would be lobbying the Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment to change those conditions.

The iwi is urging others to get involved.

Seabed mining will spread quickly across the country unless it is stopped, Mr Davis said.

Other groups may appeal the EPA decision. Te Ohu Kaimoana (The Maori Fisheries Trust), the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board and Whanganui and Ngāruahine iwi all have interests in it.

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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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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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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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How much is a ‘small’ impact?

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August 14, 2017 · 1:06 pm