A bitter blow was struck against the future of underwater metals mining this morning when the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Decision-making Committee revealed their decision to decline an application for a marine consent for mining iron sands in the South Taranaki Bight.
The applying company, Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) announced today they were extremely disappointed with the decision, after having successfully applied for a mining consent earlier this year.
Trans Tasman chief executive Tim Crossley said that staff and consultants in New Zealand now have an uncertain future, and that the local community will not benefit from new jobs in the South Taranaki region.
“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,” Crossley said.
“Our objective has been to develop an iron sands extraction project which achieves substantial economic development while protecting the environment.
“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.
Crossley said that the iron sands project was projected to generate $240 million dollars increase in New Zealand’s GDP, annually.
“Since inception TTR has spent more than $60 million, most of this in New Zealand, to deliver a sustainable mining operation with significant economic benefits for New Zealand,” Crossley said.
The EPA Decision Making Committee said the project was rejected due to uncertainty about the scope and significance of the potential of environmental effects, and effects on fishing industry and Iwi tribal interests.
The project proposal was considered highly contentious, with 99 per cent of 4800 submissions made in opposition to undersea mining.
Most objections were concerned about the effects on animals and plants, as well as the effects of the ash plume when sediment is dumped back into the sea bed.
Iwi representatives raised concerns that consent for undersea mining would lead to exploitation of the west coast of New Zealand, and that the health of the ocean was too important to let the mining go ahead.