Seabed mining plan back on table

By Laurel Stowell

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Submissions are open for Trans-Tasman Resources' application to extract iron sands off the South Taranaki coast.
Submissions are open for Trans-Tasman Resources' application to extract iron sands off the South Taranaki coast.

Trans-Tasman Resources' application for marine consent to extract iron sands off the South Taranaki coast has been accepted as complete by the Environmental Protection Authority and is open for submissions.

It was notified in the Wanganui Chronicle on Saturday and submissions close at 5pm on October 14.

Trans-Tasman Resources executive chairman Alan Eggers says there has been misinformation about the project out in the public domain. The company is offering to individually brief critics to correct what he calls inaccuracies.

The Environmental Protection Authority website says the application covers 65.7sq km of seabed 22-36km offshore in the South Taranaki Bight and under 20-42m of water. The company would take up to 50 million tonnes of seafloor material from five square kilometres a year, and export up to five million tonnes of iron ore concentrate a year for up to 35 years.

The remaining de-ored sediment (around 45 million tonnes per year) would be returned to the area where it was extracted.

"The project area is actually a largely featureless area of naturally shifting sands and sediments colonised by hardy species of common forms of marine life of no unique or special ecological significance," Mr Eggers said.

The company is confident its programme addresses all the concerns of the last Decision Making Committee which declined the application.

The project is supported by many in Taranaki, Mr Eggers said. It would add to the diversity of economic activity in the Taranaki and Whanganui regions, and contribute to government income through additional taxes and royalties. It would add more than $300 million a year to New Zealand export earnings, he said.

The application and its reports, advice and evidence are available on the EPA website.
The authority has appointed a committee of four to hear the application. They are Alick Shaw (chairman), Kevin Thompson, Sharron McGarry and Gerry Te Kapa Coates.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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