More sea bed mining permits planned for North Island's west coast

Patea resident Hemi Ngarewa is hugged by his daughter Debbie Ngarewa-Packer after the decision to allow seabed mining in ...
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Patea resident Hemi Ngarewa is hugged by his daughter Debbie Ngarewa-Packer after the decision to allow seabed mining in the South Taranaki Bight is announced.

The company recently given marine consent to mine iron sand off the Taranaki coast has four other permits in the pipeline to potentially mine massive areas of seabed, an activist group opposing the consent says.

Trans Tasman Resources were last week granted marine consent by the Environmental Protection Authority to mine 66 square kilometres of seabed in the South Taranaki Bight.

The consent allowed TTR to dredge 55 million tonnes of iron sand annually for 35 years.

Iron sands would be dredged from the seabed and pumped into a ship for processing.
SUPPLIED

Iron sands would be dredged from the seabed and pumped into a ship for processing.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining spokeswoman Cindy Baxter said TTR had three exploration permits, and a prospecting permit, filed covering a total area of 6326sqkm. 

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The exploration permits include a 815sqkm area surrounding the current consent, a 615sqkm area closer to Patea, and a 238sqkm area off Kawhia, and a prospecting permit for 4435sqkm area off west coast of the South Island.

A second company, Ironsands Offshore Mining, also had a prospecting permit for 235sqkm off New Plymouth, Baxter said.

​KASM say the EPA's decision to grant consent to TTR was flawed.

Baxter said KASM were looking at grounds for appealing the mining permit consent and the group intended to appeal.

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If the marine consent granted by the EPA goes ahead, following any appeals, a precedent would be created for future seabed mining applications, she said.

The operation had "potentially devastating consequences" and was only passed because the chair of the decision making committee, Alick Shaw, had two votes, Baxter said.

The group claim TTR failed to back up the application and carry out marine mammal surveys, or benthic organism studies and did not measure ambient noise, nor look into the effects of sea bed mining on little penguins or fairy prions.

The company's study of blue whales was also inadequate with only one aerial survey completed and a sightings from oil rigs in the South Taranaki Bight, Baxter said.

KASM also questioned TTR's shareholding after a 48 per cent transfer of shares from Dutch based TTR Investment Holding Netherlands Cooperatie UA was made to Auckland based Minvest Securities (New Zealand) Ltd, which is 99 per cent owned by Auckland law firm Claymore Partners.

The transfer of shares was made three weeks before the application, Baxter said.

Minvest Securities, with a 33.6 per cent interest, is one of 43 separate shareholdings in TTR, according to the NZ Companies Office.

The securities lending allowed TTR ceo Alan Eggers to claim the company was at least 50 per cent New Zealand owned, she said.

TTR had four directors including Eggers, who lived in Perth, Claymore Law director John Seton, Rock Check Steel Group president Ronghua Zhang, of Tianjin, China, and Andrew Stewart, of Lower Hutt.

TTR did not respond to emails.

 - Stuff

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