Iwi wants answers on mining

By Laurel Stowell

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Ironsand sampling off the coast of Patea for Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd.
Ironsand sampling off the coast of Patea for Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd.

Taranaki iwi Ngati Ruanui will take an extremely conservative view of the proposal to mine ironsand off its coastline, chief executive Debbie Packer says.

It may not give the proposal the tick.

Its tribal area stretches north from the Whenuakura River along the Taranaki coast. The 100sq/km of seabed that Trans-Tasman Resources proposes to mine is 13km north of Patea and within its boundaries.

Tuesday's Trans-Tasman Resources open day was held in Hawera at Ngati Ruanui's request.

"We told them to come to our backyard, because we are the tangata whenua," Ms Packer said.

Ngati Ruanui is not the only iwi affected, Trans-Tasman resources environment and approvals manager Andy Sommerville said. The sediment plume from the seabed mining would travel south, affecting Nga Rauru, Te Atihaunui a Paparangi and Ngati Apa.

Trans-Tasman hasn't yet run the full effects of the mining past Ngati Ruanui. It intends to apply for resource consent in late October and Mr Sommerville said it was still putting together information from its studies on environmental effects and coastal stability.

Ms Packer said her iwi had a lot of experience in dealing with resource consent issues. It had been doing so for about 30 years and had 36 oil and gas industry permits within its rohe (area). It was also an intensive area for dairy farming.

"We're from Fonterra-land and mineral land."

The iwi was still waiting for answers on questions about monitoring and methodology, and was frustrated by the lack of information.

"This particular permit is ambitious and there's a lot of information we would normally have had at this stage. We're not sure if that's because they are still trying to raise capital or figure out what their methodology is."

Ms Packer sees the proposed mining as "so invasive", and she's not seeing a lot of opportunity for her people if mining goes ahead.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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