Phosphate mining now up to EPA

Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014

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Chatham Rock Phosphate has submitted its draft marine consent application to vacuum the sea floor for phosphate nodules, after $27 million in investment.

The Wellington-based listed-company was in December granted a 20-year mining permit to mine an area of the Chatham Rise sea floor for the nodules which are used in fertiliser.

But this week it said it had now submitted its marine consent licence to the Environmental Protection Authority, the only major obstacle left in the project.

A decision was expected to be made on the 459-page document by November, following public consultation.

The deep-sea fishing industry has claimed the granting of the mining permit was a step towards marine devastation.

But CRP managing director Chris Castle said research, to be included in its environment assessment as part of its marine consent application, showed ocean floor mining would have little or no effect.

"Rigorous research by scientists has considered the relevant facets of what we propose and demonstrates how we can minimise and mitigate environmental impacts."

Castles said the phosphate resource would offer fertiliser security for New Zealand's primary industry, big export and import substitution potential, and was a project of national significance.

CRP's Environmental Impact Assessment, the key to the consent application, would be considered under the Exclusive Economic Zone regime which was introduced in June last year.

The company has raised over $27m from existing shareholders and through placements to finance its research, comprising four years of work. Fairfax NZ

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