Fresh wave of opposition to iron sand mining

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Phil McCabe
Phil McCabe

A fresh application to mine iron sand in the South Taranaki Bight has swelled a fresh wave of opposition.

On Tuesday afternoon Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) lodged a second application to mine iron sand off the coast of Patea. The first was declined by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in 2014.

Coastal iwi and Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) opposed the mining last time. They are preparing for a fresh campaign.

The EPA first has to check the application is complete. After that it will ask for public submissions.

KASM will submit against the application again, chairman Phil McCabe said.

It was putting together a legal and scientific team to give evidence at hearings.

KASM and coastal iwi are also planning a series of public meetings from Whanganui to New Plymouth, to inform people and let them know they can make submissions.

Mr McCabe said Whanganui's marine environment would be affected if mining went ahead.

"With our oceans already in serious decline to install a brand new activity that guarantees further destruction is unacceptable," he said.

Ngati Ruanui chief executive Debbie Packer said coastal tribes Ngati Apa, Whanganui, Nga Rauru and Ngati Ruanui were united in their opposition to the mining.

Moving toward a fresh hearing of the TTR application has been a debilitating process, she said.

"It's really disappointing. It appears they haven't learned a single thing from their last application."

In her view the application is incomplete, because it doesn't include a cultural impact assessment of Ngati Ruanui, the most affected iwi.

"We were never able to initiate one, because they would never give us the science to utilise to go and assess its impact."

Ngati Ruanui has asked for a copy of TTR's application, but been declined.

"Whenever we ask for anything we have to sign a confidentiality clause. We are an iwi of 7500 shareholders. How do you propose that we don't inform them?"

Ngati Ruanui deals with 46 oil consents, and is well used to the consent process.

"We have never had problems getting non-commercial information," Mrs Packer said.

Information gained from the South Taranaki Reef Life Project will be useful in any hearing. It investigates life forms on reefs off the coast.

"It's not just a great big desert out there."

Ngati Ruanui has had less engagement from the EPA than it did before the previous application. Mrs Packer has been told TTR is putting up fewer lawyers this time, and that hearings will not be held on marae as they were last time.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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