Phosphate miner sure of fundraising plan

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 09:21 22/01/2014

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Chatham Rock Phosphate managing director Chris Castle is confident of raising $6 million needed to help fund its marine consent application to mine the sea floor.

CRP was in December granted a 20-year mining permit to vacuum the sea floor for phosphate nodules, used in fertiliser, from the Chatham Rise.

Castle said he was now seeking $6m to help fund a marine consent application needed before mining could begin.

"The $6 million is chugging along quite happily on the back of the mining licence, which helped quite a lot. I am very confident about picking it up."

UK-based international corporate advisory firm Wimmer Financial has been appointed to assist in fundraising. "The sooner we can get that money in, the sooner we can file the environmental impact assessment."

Meanwhile, Niwa chief scientist fisheries, Rosemary Hurst said as far as was known, Chatham Rise was the main nursery ground for hoki. She said smaller hoki nursery grounds were off the coast of Southland and the West Coast. "But there are never anywhere near the numbers [of juvenile hoki] you get on the Chatham Rise . . . which is by far the most important."

Chatham Rise nursery ground could have 95 per cent of the 2-year olds [hoki], she said.

Castle said research, to be included in its environment assessment as part of its marine consent application to the Environment Protection Authority, showed ocean floor mining would have little or no effect on juvenile hoki.

"A worst-case scenario is that we might cause a quarter of 1 per cent of the juvenile hoki to swim elsewhere. And for the most part they are already swimming at greater depths than our activities on the crest of the Rise."

The total area of CRP's planned operation would be 450 sq km, or 30 sq km a year over the 15-year lifetime of the project. Castle said the operation area equated to less than one quarter of 1 per cent of the Rise's 190,000 sq km.

He also said the Chatham Rise should not be confused with the more sensitive hoki spawning grounds off the West Coast and in Cook Strait.

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