Some submissions support iron-sand mining

By Laurel Stowell -
3 comments
The sand of South Taranaki is rich in iron ore.
The sand of South Taranaki is rich in iron ore.

Mining South Taranaki's iron-sand would add $1.1 billion a year to the value of goods and services produced in New Zealand, a submission to the seabed mining hearings says.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is hearing applications from Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) to mine iron-sand from 66 square kilometres of seabed offshore from Patea. The matter received 13,733 submissions, most of them opposed to granting consent.

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment supports the applications, and the hearings continue in Wellington this week.

The ministry's submission says New Zealand has been mining iron-sand since the 1960s. The west coast of the North Island has some of the largest iron-sand deposits in the world, stretching 480km from Kaipara to Whanganui.

There has been increasing interest in mining them since the early 2000s, and TTR's applications are the most advanced.

The ministry manages New Zealand's petroleum and minerals. It aims to get them exploited as quickly, efficiently and sustainably as possible, by companies with high environmental and health and safety standards.

Giving consent to TTR would add wealth to the country, encourage overseas investment and further Government's growth agenda, the submission says.

With iron ore valued at US$40 to US$50 a tonne, Government would get an extra $7 million in royalties each year, doubling its total from mining. The worth of annual exports would increase by $312 million to $350 million.

The ministry looked at the economic projections presented by TTR, and considered they were largely sound. The company says the work will create 463 jobs in New Zealand, another 683 jobs for people providing supplies and items necessary to the work and 520 jobs as the company's employees spend their money.

Not only that, the ministry said mining jobs pay better than most. The average salary of someone involved in petroleum and mineral extraction is $105,645 a year, more than twice the average New Zealand salary.

++Commercial seafood company Sanford Ltd has submitted that TTR's applications should be granted, with conditions.

Sanford would be affected by the mining, because it owns fish quota in the South Taranaki Bight and has aquaculture interests in the top of the South Island.

It has worked closely and shared information with TTR and has come up with conditions for the mining, its submission says.

It asks that the applications be granted, provided that the EPA considers the predictions for the sediment plume created are sound and that the effect on fish stocks will be no more than anticipated.

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