You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

New attempt at seabed mining permit

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/02/2017 Rebecca Howard

Trans Tasman Resource will try again in hearings starting this week to get permission to mine iron sands from the ocean floor in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone.

The hearings, which start in Wellington on February 16 and are scheduled to finish on March 20, mark the New Zealand company's second attempt to obtain consents after a decision-making committee (DMC) appointed by the EPA ruled in 2014 that the environmental impacts of the proposal were too difficult to gauge on the evidence available.

The company has spent around $65 million seeking permission to mine titano-magentite ironsands on the seafloor off the coast of Whanganui. It chose not to appeal the original DMC decision, preferring to mount a fresh, second bid with additional evidence in front of an entirely new panel.

Phil McCabe, chairman of community-based action group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining opposing the initiative, said his organisation takes issue with seabed mining because "there's guaranteed environmental destruction or degradation". He said the area includes sensitive habitats that are important to marine mammals as well as thriving reefs.

The proposed mining area is outside the 12 mile nautical limit in an area that migratory species move through, and a large undersea desert of ironsands in which there are strong current and limited marine life. Much of the original DMC's rejection of the bid related to the unknowable environmental impacts on the area, given limited research beyond TTR's.

TTR was not immediately available for comment but according to its website, scientific studies show the proposed operations will have no more than a minimal impact on marine mammals present in the area.

The project aims to export up to five million tonnes of iron ore concentrate annually for up to 35 years, targeting Asian steel mills capable of processing titano-magnetite, a less used alternative and additive to iron ore in steel-making.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon