Trans-Tasman Resources has let two of its seabed prospecting permits lapse, pleasing Kiwis Against Seabed Mining chairwoman Cindy Baxter.

The permits were for prospecting 4435 sq km of the South Island West Coast seabed, coming within 1km of shore, and for 1563 sq km offshore from Kawhia on the North Island's west coast.

The company narrowly obtained consents to mine iron-sand across 66 sq km offshore from Patea in August last year, after a long hearing by an Environmental Protection Authority decision making committee.

The consents were then appealed to the High Court by iwi, conservation and fishing groups. The case was heard in Wellington in April, and the judge's decision is due any time now.


Trans-Tasman Resources' permit to prospect the West Coast seabed was the most recent to lapse. It ended quietly on July 26, and will not be renewed.

The company's website says it has spent $65 million on preparation for mining the South Taranaki iron-sand, and is waiting for the High Court decision.

Whether the High Court upholds the company's consents or not, the decision is likely to be appealed.

In other seabed mining news, just last month Ironsands Offshore Mining Ltd was given a five-year permit to explore 223 sq km offshore from New Plymouth. The permit will allow it to do some drilling to assess iron-sand quality.

Overall there is much less activity toward seabed mining now than there was in 2012, Baxter said, and this would be a good time for Government to rethink its policy.

"Two seabed mining applications have been refused, a third is under appeal, permits are dropping like flies, the companies are struggling financially, there are still huge concerns around the environmental impact, and opposition is growing stronger by the day. It's time for the government to put a stop to this madness."