Law change would make seabed mining easier

By Laurel Stowell

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Trans-Tasman Resources has applied to mine iron sand off the Patea coast.
Trans-Tasman Resources has applied to mine iron sand off the Patea coast.

A bill making its way through Parliament would remove some of the impediments to seabed mining, Environment and Conservation Organisations' policy Vice-chair Cath Wallace says.

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill would make it easier for mineral spoil to be dumped at sea and also allow the Environment Minister to appoint the people deciding whether the seabed can be mined.

The bill has passed its first reading, submissions on it closed in March and it is now being considered by a select committee.

It's a hefty and wide-ranging bill, and seabed matters are only a fraction of it.

The law change comes after the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) declined New Zealand's first two applications for mining in its offshore exclusive economic zone.

"This is a blatant case of the government changing the law to suit the mining industry at the expense of the environment," Ms Wallace said.

Trans-Tasman Resources has just made a second application to mine iron sand off the Patea coast. It will be treated like a new application, which means some material will be revisited, an EPA spokeswoman said.

A Decision Making Committee has already been appointed to hear that application.

Dates for the next stage of the process will be on the EPA website when they have been decided.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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