Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Environmentalists seek to delay seabed mining application

Environmental groups call for postponement of seabed mining application

By Pattrick Smellie

March 11 (BusinessDesk) – Environmental groups are calling for the postponement of TransTasman Resources’ application to mine ironsands in the Exclusive Economic Zone off the coast from Patea, claiming the company has not taken all relevant considerations into account.

While the five member panel of commissioners considering the application declined to adjourn the hearings, which are scheduled to take around two months, they did call for legal advice on whether TTR might also need a resource consent under the Resource Management Act, as well as an EEZ Act marine consent.

That followed submissions by the Environmental Defence Society that if sediment released in the mining process drifted inside the 12 mile nautical limit, TTR would require an RMA consent as well as a marine consent.

The area TTR proposes to mine is all outside the 12 mile limit, and is therefore governed only by the EEZ Act, but one of the major issues in the hearings will be the impact of sediment plumes on the surrounding environment when TTR returns sands that have been stripped of iron ore to the seafloor.

Iron ore comprises around 10 percent of the volume of the sands to be mined, with the remaining 90 percent to be returned to the seafloor, where impacts on the relatively sparse seafloor life in the area should recover within two to five years, according to TTR’s submissions.

TTR had originally planned to mine an area straddling the 12 mile limit but chose instead to concentrate on a 66 square kilometre area between 22 kilometres and 36 kilometres from shore. Its opening submissions yesterday said the seabead in the relatively shallow waters of the South Taranaki Bight were already subject to regular, natural “perturbation”.

The main thrust of submissions from both EDS and the lobby group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) is that inadequate information and baseline scientific research meant consent should either be refused or approved only in stages, and using an adaptive management approach.

The EEZ Act required caution, and an adaptive management regime would mean the project could proceed only once each staged element had proven to work as well as claimed.

“Adaptive management should not be used as a way of finding out what the effects of an activity will be,” the EDS submission. “In the event that consent is granted, the Environmental Protection Authority is able to grant a staged consent. This may include carefully defined thresholds or environmental indicators as preconditions to approval of subsequent stages.”

It also challenged TTR’s suggestion that a staged approach could threaten the project’s economic viability

“It would be an error of law to state that a consent condition cannot be imposed requiring staging of this proposal on the assertion that this makes the project not viable to investors.”

KASM’s submission opposed the project on broad grounds, including negative impacts on the mining area, its surrounds and distant coastal marine environment, “changing the physical, chemical and biological nature of the seawater, causing ecosystem stress and reducing the ability for life in the water column and on the seabed to exist, thus degrading the quality of the oceans as a whole.”

“Specific potential adverse effects identified in our expert evidence include on the marine biodiversity, including the benthos and marine mammals, including blue whales and Maui’s dolphins.”

TTR had “failed to sufficiently address the crucial, and in our submission, central, issue of the effects of the mining on the benthic environment. This, in our submission, is a fundamental and crippling failure.”

It sought adjournment of the hearings while these alleged deficiencies were remedied, which the EPA-appointed commissioners declined, saying this could be dealt with during expert witness testimony later this month.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Trade & Retail: Chinese Disaster Spells Quiet Season For NZ Fireworks Sales

In August, two massive explosions at a warehouse at the port in the port of Tianjin, Northern China, killing more than a hundred people and devastating large areas of the city. In the wake of the disaster, Chinese authorities rushed to regulate the distribution of all dangerous goods... More>>



Oceans: NOAA Declares Third Ever Global Coral Bleaching Event

As record ocean temperatures cause widespread coral bleaching across Hawaii, NOAA scientists confirm the same stressful conditions are expanding to the Caribbean and may last into the new year, prompting the declaration of the third global coral bleaching event ever on record. More>>

Scoop Business: A Decade Of Government Pre-Seed Investment

More publicly-funded science is being commercialised after a decade of government ‘pre-see’d investment, according to an independent review. More>>


Solid Energy: Plan To Shut Unprofitable Huntly East Mine

Solid Energy, the state-owned coal miner in voluntary administration, plans to shut down its unprofitable Huntly East mine and lay off 65 staff after deciding the site stands "no chance whatsoever" of finding a buyer. More>>


E Tū: Merger Creates NZ's Biggest Private Sector Union

E tū has been created by the merger of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and Service and Food Workers’ Union. It represents more than 50,000 working New Zealanders in industries as diverse as aviation, construction, journalism, food manufacturing, mining and cleaning. More>>


Internet: NZ Govt Lifts Target Speeds For Rural Broadband

The government has lifted its expectations on faster broadband speeds for rural New Zealand as it targets increased spending on research and development in the country's information and communications technology sector, which it sees as a key driver for export growth. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news