Marine consent to mine the South Taranaki coast has been declined once, approved once and appealed twice so far.
The next court action will be in the Appeal Court, probably in 2019. In it Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) will seek confirmation that the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) used the legally correct approach to grant its marine consent.
Meanwhile opposers will uphold the decision of Justice Peter Churchman, in the High Court, that granting a marine discharge consent on insufficient information was unlawful. They will go further, and seek to make barriers to seabed mining even higher.
It's a confusing old back and forth struggle between the mining company and opposers.
TTR was formed in 2007, and according to its website has spent $65 million so far on a proposal to mine ironsand 22-36km offshore from Pātea, across 66sq km of seabed. Iron-rich particles would be shipped offshore. The rest would be returned to the seabed.
The opposers are groups not usually united in one cause - several fisheries interests - including Talleys, two South Taranaki iwi, and environmental groups including Forest & Bird and Kiwis Against Seabed Mining. The Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board even joined in, despite the Conservation Department not submitting in the consent hearings.
Seabed mining timeline
• September 2007: TTR formed
• June 2014: EPA declines marine consent
• August 2017: EPA gives marine consent - narrowly - decision appealed to High Court by groups
• August 2018: High Court sends decision back to EPA - TTR appeals that to Appeal Court and groups lodge cross appeals