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

 


Ironsands mining plan carries too many uncertainties: EPA

Seabed ironsands mining plan carries too many uncertainties: EPA

By Pattrick Smellie

May 6 (BusinessDesk) – The environmental impacts of plans to mine ironsands off the ocean floor in the South Taranaki are too uncertain for regulators to know how to draft rules to manage them, staff from the Environmental Protection Authority say in a report ahead of final hearings on the proposal.

TransTasman Resources is seeking a marine consent under new law governing New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone to suck sands rich in iron ore from the ocean floor between 22 and 36 kilometres offshore for export to Asian steel mills.

The process would see the 90 percent of sand that is not iron-bearing deposited back on the seafloor. Final submissions on the application will be delivered in Wellington over the next two days to the decision-making committee (DMC) appointed by the EPA to recommend or decline a marine consent, after a month of hearings around the North Island.

The application is the first to seek permission to mine the seafloor off the New Zealand coast and the first under new EEZ law.

“The conditions provided by the EPA staff are not a complete set because a lack of information in some areas has meant we have been unable to develop conditions that are measurable and enforceable in those areas,” the staff report to the EPA-appointed decision-making committee (DMC) on the application says.

“In particular, we have been unable to develop environmental performance objectives to guide an adaptive management approach.”

Many of the submissions to a month of hearings held around the country by the DMC have concentrated on how the sand plumes created by the mining process could affect marine life, and the impact on wave action of the pits and trenches the mining process would create.

“The EPA staff agree with submitters to the application that, notwithstanding the further information provided in response to the EPA’s requests, the application continues to leave uncertainty about the effects the proposed activities might have on the environment.

“Many of the effects of the proposed activities cannot be accurately evaluated until after baseline monitoring proposed by TTR has occurred,” the report says.

While TTR submitted it could take an “adaptive management” approach, which would see it adapt the process as its impacts were learnt, the report says EPA staff do not consider a small scale or short term adaptive management approach would “favour the caution and environmental protection that the EEZ Act requires.”

TTR also identifies such an approach as a “significant commercial issue for its operation.”

“Adaptive management of that sort is unlikely to enable the actual or cumulative effects of TTR’s proposal on the environment and existing interests to be determined. We do not anticipate that there would be immediate acute effects generated by commencing activities on a small scale or for a short duration but instead expect that effects will manifest as a result of the continued presence of the activity over a long period.”

Nor do EPA staff support an alternative proposal from TTR to stage activity in a way that allows a limited start to mining with monitoring required before the next stage of activity starts.

“This approach requires an understanding of when significant effects are likely to manifest following an activity, and this information has not been presented in the evidence. It is possible that such an approach may also compound the adverse effects on benthos,” the report says.

“EPA staff consider that a key question for the DMC will be whether it has the best available information on the effects of the application and whether the residual uncertainties can be addressed by adaptive management such that caution and environmental protection will be appropriately favoured,” the report says. “In the event that the DMC cannot be satisfied, the EEZ Act points it towards a decision to decline consent.”

While TTR has proposed setting high-level qualitative objectives for environmental and baseline monitoring over two years of operations, the EPA staff believes “the degree of uncertainty is too great to be satisfactorily addressed through the EPA certifying the Environmental Monitoring and Management Plan at a later date.”

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

R18: The Warehouse Group Praised For Removing Games

The decision by New Zealand’s largest retailer The Warehouse Group (TW Group), to withdraw stocks of the latest version of Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) and other R18 games, has been praised by advocacy group Stop Demand Foundation. More>>

ALSO:

Air NZ Wine Awards: Victory For Villa Maria As Pinot Noir Thrills

It was a night to remember as Villa Maria Estate picked up one of the highest accolades of the evening, the O-I New Zealand Reserve Wine of the Show Trophy, at the 28th Air New Zealand Wine Awards. The Villa Maria Single Vineyard Southern Clays Marlborough ... More>>

ALSO:

Future Brighter Money: RBNZ Releases New Bank Note Designs

New Zealand’s banknotes are getting brighter and better, with the Reserve Bank today unveiling more vibrant and secure banknote designs which will progressively enter circulation later next year. More>>

ALSO:

Commerce: Supermarket Inquiry Finds No Breaches By Countdown

The Commerce Commission inquiry into anti-competitive behaviour by Countdown supermarkets, alleged by former Labour Party MP Shane Jones, has found nothing to warrant prosecution, although it warns supermarkets to take care in the way they communicate... More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: English Flags ‘Challenge’ To Budget Surplus

Finance Minister Bill English is warning next month’s half yearly fiscal and economic update from the Treasury may not forecast a budget surplus, saying that returning the government’s accounts to surplus in 2015 will be “a challenge”, given the decline in commodity prices and weak global inflation. More>>

ALSO:

March 2015: Netflix To Launch In Australia And New Zealand

World’s Leading Internet Television Network to Offer Original Series, Movies, Documentaries, Stand-Up Comedy Specials and TV Shows for Low Monthly Price More>>

ALSO:

Price Of Cheese (Is Up): Dairy Product Prices Fall To Five-Year Low

Dairy product prices fell in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction to the lowest level in more than five years, led by declines in rennet casein and skim milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news