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Ironsands decision augers badly for Chatham Rise mining

Ironsands decision augers badly for Chatham Rise seabed mining

Forest & Bird says today’s decision by the Environmental Protection Authority not to grant a permit for Trans Tasman Resources to mine for ironsand in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the North Island’s west coast sets a positive precedent.

The decision indicates that a plan to mine the seabed on the Chatham Rise is unlikely to ever be approved.

“The ironsand mining proposal would have involved dredging the seabed at depths of only between 20-45 metres. Even in these comparatively shallow waters, very little is known about the ecosystems that exist in these areas - or the long-term impacts of the massive disturbance caused by seabed mining,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“Generally speaking, the deeper the water, the less is known about the creatures that live there and how they would respond to the significant disturbance caused by seabed mining.

“By comparison, Chatham Rock Phosphate wants to vacuum up the seabed at depths of 400 metres. That would make it the deepest seabed mining operation in the world, destroying habitats and species science knows even less about.

“And whereas Trans Tasman Resources wanted to dredge an area about the size of Wellington’s harbour, Chatham Rock Phosphate wants to vacuum up an area four times the size of the Abel Tasman National Park,” says Kevin Hackwell.

Chatham Rock Phosphate has applied for a consent from the EPA for its operation.

“Nearly half a million square kilometres of New Zealand’s offshore EEZ environment has been offered up for mining or oil and gas permits, and all of that EEZ is available for fishing.

“Yet not one square kilometre of the offshore EEZ is fully protected. All of New Zealand’s no-take marine reserves are within the country’s territorial waters. We need to see a comprehensive network of marine reserves, in both our territorial waters and our EEZ, and until that balance is provided there needs to be a halt to all new mining and oil and gas proposals,” says Kevin Hackwell.


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