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Chatham Rock Phosphate Ltd mining permit granted

Media release

6 December 2013

Chatham Rock Phosphate Ltd mining permit granted

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has granted a mining permit to Chatham Rock Phosphate Ltd for the extraction of rock phosphate on the Chatham Rise.

A 20-year mining permit has been granted to Chatham Rock Phosphate to extract phosphate nodules from an 820 square kilometre area of the Chatham Rise.

The mining application was assessed by MBIE’s New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals (NZP&M) branch and evaluated on a number of criteria including the applicant’s proposed work programme, technical and financial capability, and understanding of the geological resource.

“The mining permit issued includes a detailed and public set of work programme requirements for the company to adhere to, before and during any mining operations,” says NZP&M National Manager Minerals Sefton Darby.

“It is important to note that the granting of the mining permit is just the first stage of the regulatory process.  The company will also need to obtain a marine consent from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) before it is able to begin mining.”

The EPA manages the environmental impact of activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf. A marine consent application would have a separate consultation process.  The EPA must consider a broad range of factors in making marine consent decisions, including the likely environmental and economic impacts.  If granted, the consent would set out what conditions are imposed to address the effects of the activity on the environment and existing interests.

“While it’s still very early days and it would be several years before mining began if a marine consent was granted, the economic potential of this project could be significant.  Part of that economic impact would come from using Chatham Rock Phosphate as a partial substitute for some of the phosphate that is currently imported from Morocco for use in agricultural fertilisers,” Mr Darby says.

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