Battle on to prevent mining

JAMES IRELAND
Last updated 05:00 14/11/2012
mining
JAMES IRELAND
IRON WILL: Cindy Baxter and Sara Carbery are mobilising Piha residents to get out and oppose under sea mining.

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A national campaign protesting mining of ironsands on the west coast has made its way to Piha.

Cindy Baxter and Sara Carbery are mobilising residents of the beach town to come together and oppose mining they say could wreak havoc with the fisheries and the surf.

"Piha is a very lucrative place to mine because we have very high deposits of ironsand but if it goes ahead they could be dredging the ocean floor," Ms Baxter says.

"They can mine down to 20 metres below the sea floor. The problem is we don't really know for sure what harm that may cause. Here in Piha we rely on the tourism created by the surf and if you alter the sea floor the surf could be ruined. Plus think about what that damage could do to the fish."

Former Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey is 100 per cent opposed to plans to mine for ironsands.

"There's evidence coming through from Australia that under sea mining not only destroys the habitat of sea life but it severely disrupts the sonar capabilities of dolphins and whales," he says.

"What we have to remember is that we share the coast with billions of other inhabitants including whales, the most incredible creatures on the planet.

"The drilling that has to be done to get the minerals is not like popping down a small wood drill, the drilling has to go through rock. It's completely devastating. It's great that the locals are speaking up and opposing this," he says.

The government released a paper for public consultation relating to revenue from minerals with public submissions closing on December 7.

Reviewing the Royalties Regime for Minerals paper focuses on the royalty rates applied to coal, gold, silver, platinum group elements, ironsands, phosphates and seafloor massive sulphides.

The recommended changes to ironsand royalties would mean the mining company pays the higher of two options, either 2 per cent of their net revenues or 10 per cent of their accounting profits once all significant costs have been recovered. These new royalties would be double the current rates.

Ms Carbery floated the idea of forming a Piha branch of Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and its first meeting in September attracted an audience of 60.

"I haven't met one person who thinks it's a good idea. It's not like mining on conservation land where we can see it. With under sea mining you can't see all the devastation until it starts to impact on the surf or the fish.

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"The more concentrated deposits of ironsand exist closer to the beach which means the dredging needs to get as close to the shore as they can.

"Piha is a jewel in Auckland's crown, tourists come here from all over the world," she says.

A prospecting permit was granted to FMG Pacific Limited in August 2009 for 8204 square kilometers of seabed stretching from the entrance to the Manukau Harbour up to the tip of the North Island.

Ironsand deposits are the country's largest reserve of metal ore and originate as crystals within volcanic rock and are rich in the mineral titanomagnetite.

- Western Leader

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