Ironsand mining rejected

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 12:20 18/06/2014

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Plans to mine millions of tonnes of ironsand from the South Taranaki seabed have been scuttled after a landmark hearing.

In what was seen as a test case nationwide, Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) proposed to extract up to 50 million tonnes of sediment per year, across 65.76 square kilometres, and process it aboard a floating processing storage and offloading vessel.

About 5 million tonnes of iron ore concentrate would then be exported.

Those fighting to stop TTR have cited concerns relating to effects on marine and coastal ecology, erosion and consequential effects on local communities.

Of the 4702 submissions received during the hearing process only eight fully support the proposal.

Those backing it say it is a worthwhile investment that would contribute to the country's economic growth.

In the Environmental Protection Authority's 248-page decision released today, it's Decision-Making Committee (DMC) said the ''major reasons'' for knocking it back ''were the uncertainties in the scope and significance of the potential adverse environmental effects and those on existing interests, such as the fishing interests and Iwi''.

In light of that, the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Act requires the EPA to favour caution and environmental protection, the statement said.

''Overall the DMC found that the application did not meet the sustainable management purpose of EEZ Act, including that it was not satisfied that the life-supporting capacity of the environment would be safeguarded or that the adverse effects of the proposal could be avoided, remedied or mitigated, given the uncertainty and inadequacy of the information presented.''

TTR's Chief Executive Tim Crossley said they are ''extremely disappointed'' with the decision.

''We have put a significant amount of time and effort into developing this project including consulting with iwi and local communities and undertaking detailed scientific research to assess environmental impacts of the project,'' he said.

''We will be carefully analysing the decision over the next few days and will take our time to consider what this means for the South Taranaki Bight project and for the company.''

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- Taranaki Daily News

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