Seabed mining fight continues

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 16:06 02/07/2014

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Celebratory drinks turned sour for ocean campaigners after Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) said it would appeal a decision against a massive iron-sands mining operations off the Taranaki Coast.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) threw a party two weeks ago for supporters of the successful campaign to see off the mining giant.

However, KASM chairman Phil McCabe woke yesterday to news worthy of a painful hangover.

"We were 60 or 70 per cent expecting it," McCabe said.

"They are a hungry bunch and they'll do anything they can to get what they want."

KASM's two-year battle with the New Zealand-based mining company had taken a toll on members, but McCabe said they would pick themselves up and start again.

"We all love the ocean and we don't want to see the ocean degraded and that's what gives us our energy. We'll follow it through to the end."

TTR applied for marine consent for an annual harvest of 50 million tonnes of iron-rich sediment over 20 years, 36 kilometres off the Patea Coast.

A floating processing plant would separate 5 million tonnes of iron ore concentrate for export and the remaining spoil, about 45 million tonnes, would be dumped back to the ocean bottom.

An Environment Protection Authority-appointed committee declined TTR's application, citing inadequacies and uncertainty in TTR's bid.

McCabe said a core group had put their lives on hold to fight TTR's application and hundreds more helped. It had cost them money and time.

"I've put my business on the backburner for two years and put 40 or 50 per cent of my work life to address TTR's proposal," McCabe said.

"We haven't invited this and yet it has cost us considerably."

The decision-making committee's finding had been comprehensive and the TTR application had not been up to speed, he said.

"The whole proposal is offensive and it's taken a lot of time from people's lives and caused a lot of undue stress and the company is keen on keeping that going."

TTR's board said it would appeal the EPA decision on its application to mine iron sands in the South Taranaki Bight.

The decision-making committee's ruling could be appealed only on points of law, but TTR chief executive Tim Crossley did not disclose the reason behind TTR's stance.

"We have now studied the decision in detail with the assistance of our advisers and experts, and are confident that there are strong grounds for a successful appeal," he said.

TTR had already spent more than $60 million on exploration.

TTR's objective was for substantial economic development of the region and to protect the environment, Crossley said.

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More than 300 jobs would be created, Taranaki GDP would grow by $240m a year and national GDP by $302m a year.

- Waikato Times

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