INDEPENDENT NEWS

Trans-Tasman Resources gets green light to mine iron sands

Published: Thu 10 Aug 2017 02:57 PM
Trans-Tasman Resources gets green light to mine iron sands
By Rebecca Howard
Aug. 10 (BusinessDesk) - Trans-Tasman Resources has been given the green light to mine iron sands from the ocean floor in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone in the South Taranaki Bight, in a split ruling by the decision-making committee.
“The decision is to grant consents, imposing conditions that provide an appropriate degree of caution,” said Allan Freeth, chief executive of the Environmental Protection Authority.
Freeth said two committee members, including chairman Alick Shaw, voted in favor of the project and there was a “strong dissenting view” from the other two. As a result, Shaw used his chairman casting vote in favor of granting the consents, said Freeth.
Freeth underscored it was highly “complex and challenging” for the EPA and the fact that there was a split decision does reflect that complexity.
An appeal is now possible within a 15-working day period, but must be on question of law, he said. Both the applicant and the submitters have the right to file an appeal. The consent will not commence until any appeals have been resolved, something he said could "take a considerable amount of time."
TTR has sought permission to extract 50 million tonnes of seabed material a year to export up to 5 million tonnes of iron sand per year twice now. It was first rejected in 2014 when a committee ruled the environmental impacts of the proposal were too difficult to gauge on the evidence available. The company went back to the drawing board and a second hearing was held between February and May this year.
The project has sparked controversy as those opposed argue it will change the physical, chemical and biological nature of the seawater and degrade the quality of the oceans as a whole. According to Freeth, there were more than 13,000 submissions opposed to the project.
Lobby groups Kiwis Against Seabed Mining and Greenpeace and local iwi are among those who voiced strong opposition.
Kiwis Against Seabed Mining said it will appeal today’s EPA’s decision to "greenlight a dangerous seabed mining proposal in the South Taranaki Bight."
The sand is mined using a very slow moving crawler which creeps along the seafloor “vacuuming" up sand and seawater and pumping it to a vessel. The iron ore is magnetically separated and the de-ored sand, about 90 percent of the total, is immediately re-deposited.
According to TTR, the vast majority of the redeposited sand will settle back on the seabed and effectively fill areas previously dredged by the crawler. However, the process will form a "plume" in the water column, which will drift depending on tides, ocean currents and general weather conditions in an often turbulent part of the Tasman Sea. In both hearings, the main focus was on the impact of that plume.
The decision was welcomed by Chatham Rock Phosphate, which failed to get clearance to mine phosphate nodules from the seabed on the Chatham Rise and is now working on a new application following legislative changes that came into effect last month.
(BusinessDesk)
ends
BusinessDesk
Independent, Trustworthy New Zealand Business News
The Wellington-based BusinessDesk team led by former Bloomberg Asian top editor Jonathan Underhill and Qantas Award-winning journalist and commentator Pattrick Smellie provides a daily news feed for a serious business audience.
Contact BusinessDesk
Email:

Next in Business, Science, and Tech

Live Gita updates: 'It was literally like a wall of water'
By: RNZ
Another day, another America's Cup plan
By: RNZ
Fairfax starts NZ endgame
By: BusinessDesk
Norris steps down as Fletcher chair after $486M provision
By: BusinessDesk
Concerns with suggestion to “scrap” fishing monitoring
By: WWF
Stink bug invasion could cost NZ billions
By: RNZ
Scoop Coverage: Cyclone Gita Hits the Pacific And NZ
By: Scoop Full Coverage
Climate Minister: New cyclone category may be needed
By: RNZ
Detected faecal matter closes popular swimming spot
By: RNZ
Settled weather expected for Cyclone Gita clean up
By: MetService
Health Warning for swimming after heavy rainfall
By: Canterbury District Health Board
First storm of 2018 costs more than $26m
By: Insurance Council of New Zealand
Cyclone Gita - CDEM Canterbury
By: Emergency Management Canterbury
Swimming advisory after Ex-Cyclone Gita
By: Nelson City Council
Cyclone Gita Update: Thursday 22 February 2018 1700 hrs
By: Nelson Tasman Civil Defence
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media