Mining meets stiff opposition

By Laurel Stowell

2 comments
Ironsand mining may take place in future, out on the distant horizon. Photo/Bevan Conley
Ironsand mining may take place in future, out on the distant horizon. Photo/Bevan Conley

Only eight out of 4702 submissions are wholly in favour of ironsand mining offshore from Patea.

The Environmental Protection Authority is to decide whether 66 square kilometres of seabed can be mined by Trans-Tasman Resources. Submissions closed on January 28.

Many of them used an online form supplied by KASM (Kiwis Against Seabed Mining). Its chairman, Phil McCabe, said that number of submissions was a great result.

"It's not a simple process. For 4700 people to take the time, that's a substantial concern from the community's point of view."

According to the summary of submissions on the authority's website, 33 were from Patea and 83 from Wanganui. There were a total of 213 from the South Taranaki coast.

Some of those could have hundreds of people behind them. Coastal tribes Nga Rauru, Ngati Apa and Ngati Ruanui all submitted against the mining.

But most of the submissions were from individuals, and Mr McCabe was pleased with their diversity.

People from Raglan, where he is based, put in more than 400 submissions.

He said that was not surprising, because Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) has had its prospecting licence for the coast between Awakino and Kawhia upgraded to an exploration licence. Waikato people have long feared that ironsand mining would extend up their coast.

"It just indicates TTR's intention for the west coast of New Zealand."

Of the eight submitters in favour of the mining, half represented the oil industry. They talked about the economic benefits, and said the area was remote and any environmental damage would be short-term.

A further nine submitters had a range of views. One of them was Taranaki Regional Council, but it cited a lot of concerns about the proposal - effects on ecology, water quality, marine mammals, reefs, surf breaks, natural character and seabed life among them.

Wanganui District Council was also neither for nor against the mining, and talked of erosion and effects on seabed life and the economy.

Submitters wanted conditions imposed if mining is allowed to go ahead. They include monitoring, compensation and stopping work if new risks appear.

Many reasons were given for not allowing mining at all. They included the precautionary principle, effects on marine mammals, sediment in seawater and damage or pollution from the activity of ships and aircraft.

Some submitters mentioned opposition to oil drilling and concern about climate change, but that was ruled outside the scope of the application.

KASM is now busy compiling last minute evidence, in response to new information posted by TTR on February 17.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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