Survey to chart views on mining

By Laurel Stowell

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Trans-Tasman Resources has commissioned a survey of attitudes to its plans to mine ironsand off the South Taranaki coast.

The survey of 300 people from Wanganui to New Plymouth is being done by researcher Pauline Colmar. She wrote the questions, Trans-Tasman's communications consultant Norrey Simmons said.

The telephone survey will take about two weeks.

Wanganui resident Elizabeth Stiles-Dawe is one who was polled. She felt the questions were slanted and that the results would be unreliable.

The company wants to know what local people know about its plans, and what they think of them, from an independent source.

"How else do you actually find out?" CEO Tim Crossley said.

The result would guide the company in how it targeted its engagement with the community. Such surveys were common when a large new project was proposed, he said.

Trans-Tasman is still researching exactly how it would go about mining the seabed.

At the moment it could be by sucking up the sand from 12 square kilometres of seabed each year, rinsing the salt off it, separating out the iron-rich particles and returning the rest to the seabed.

Between three and six million tonnes of sand would be sucked up, with 90 per cent returned. The iron ore from the sand could be worth $600 million to $1 billion.

There could be 450 jobs for New Zealanders, with at least 50 per cent of the returns staying in the country. The whole operation would take place offshore, aboard large vessels, with the iron ore then shipped to Asia.

The target area for initial production is 15km offshore and between Patea and Hawera. Mining cannot begin until at least mid-2015, after a resource consent process.

One thing the operation will need from on-shore is "quite a lot" of fresh water, to wash salt off the iron particles, Mr Crossley said.

The ship PMG Pride is being used in Trans-Tasman's ongoing drilling programme this summer.

The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) is researching possible environmental effects. That and other reports would be finished soon, Ms Simmons said, but would have to be peer reviewed before they were published.

The company may be ready to apply for resource consent by June this year.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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