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Sand mining a threat to a favourite Auckland beach

20 April 2005

Sand mining a threat to a favourite Auckland beach

The Green Party is applauding the Muriwai community's condemnation of an off-shore iron sand mining proposal and is warning Aucklanders that one of their favourite beaches is under threat.

The exploration application by Black Sands Mining covers 3000km2 of seabed between the Kaipara Harbour and Taranaki.

"Aucklanders should be very concerned about the effect of this sand extraction on areas such as Muriwai and Piha," said the Green Party's Associate Environment Spokesperson Metiria Turei.

"When natural sand migration is disturbed, it is beaches that lose out, with the possibility of leaving bedrock where there once was sand.

"The Crown Minerals Act doesn't allow coastal communities to make any input into the Ministry of Economic Development's decision to grant an application, let alone the thousands of city people who flock to these beaches every weekend.

"Only when Black Sands applies for a resource consent under the RMA can locals potentially have a say, but many council coastal plans define iron sand exploration as a permitted activity. In such cases, those who live on the coast will have no chance to object. These exploration applications are only made if there is a high chance of iron sand being found in the area.

"A sand mining ship sucks up as much as half-a-metre of seabed, extracts the minerals and spits out the left-over sand and thousands of dead sea creatures. The devastation of the sea floor destroys critical feeding and breeding grounds and will massively impact the marine ecology.

"And the area affected is the habitat of the Maui Dolphin, of which there only 80 to 120 left in the world. They are slow breeders and even the death of one or two juveniles a year will lead to their extinction. Even the exploratory level of sand extraction could lead at least to habitat damage and, worse, to dolphin death.

"Contrary to claims currently doing the rounds, the ocean floor is not a desert!" said Mrs Turei.


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