Anti-mining group says it was snubbed

ROB MAETZIG
Last updated 05:00 01/02/2013

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An anti-seabed-mining lobby group says industry promises to engage with the public are a mockery.

Raglan-headquartered Kiwis Against Seabed Mining is furious it was not among the about-70 organisations and individuals invited to attend a function in New Plymouth this week.

At the event, Trans-Tasman Resources provided an update on its plans to mine millions of tonnes of ironsand from the sea floor off South Taranaki.

The company said it welcomed healthy debate on its proposals.

Yesterday KASM chairman Phil McCabe, of Raglan, savaged the omission, saying they should have invited as New Zealand's only non-government organisation focusing wholly on seabed mining.

"A hand-picked invite list of 70 does not equate to healthy debate nor meaningful consultation," he said.

"Perhaps TTR didn't invite KASM to its meeting because it didn't want its international directors, flown in from offshore for this meeting, to see the depth of opposition from New Zealanders to its plans to plunder our resources, fundamentally alter our marine environment, and further threaten the world's most endangered dolphin, the Maui's."

But yesterday TTR chief executive Tim Crossley said KASM wasn't invited because it is based in Raglan - and his company's area of interest is south of New Plymouth.

"That's where we'll be for the first 10 to 20 years of our mining," he said. "We've no intention of mining up there [the Raglan area] at all."

However, Mr McCabe said KASM knew there was serious concern about the seabed mining plan in every community because in November last year the organisation travelled the entire coast from Whanganui to Piha asking coastal residents and stakeholders their views.

Asked whether KASM has ever had any formal meetings with TTR, Mr McCabe said his organisation had requested a public meeting in Raglan, but that has not yet happened.

"We have had a few brief interactions with TTR representative Andy Somerville. The most recent interaction was when he turned up at a public meeting in Whanganui. He refused to participate in an open manner so we had to kick him out," he said.

Mr Crossley said KASM was welcome to meet his company at any time.

"However we wouldn't want to meet in any public forum.

"That's because at this stage of the project it would be more meaningful to talk about things without getting all caught up in emotion."

TTR plans to "harvest" up to 10 million tonnes of iron ore a year in a mining operation between Patea and Opunake.

The mining, which is planned to start as early as next year, would see a large dredge boat suck the ironsand off the sea floor and transfer it to a permanently moored processing ship.

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There, the iron ore would be removed from the sand using magnetic separators and transferred to bulk carriers anchored nearby.

The mined sand would be returned to the seabed in what TTR promises will be a controlled manner so the sea floor's natural contours can be retained as much as possible.

At this week's function Mr Crossley said his company was confident that once the sand was returned to the seabed, it would regenerate quickly.

He said that relative to other mining projects it would be relatively innocuous.

- Taranaki Daily News

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