Faitfax New Zealand
28 August 2012
The “NO MINING at Muriwai” signs may be resurrected shortly as the possibility of Auckland west coast seabed mining raises its head again.
The Muriwai Beach community stood firmly against an exploration application by Australian mining company Westland Ilmenite in 1991.
Residents celebrated in March 1994 after learning the mining company had earlier withdrawn its application.
They protested again in 2005 when Australian-based company Black Sand Exploration sought an exploration permit for over 3500 square kilometres starting from the low-tide mark to 18km offshore.
Anna Mason of Muriwai Beach was among those leading the fight, especially the 1990s protest which included petitions and a deputation to Parliament.
Now she’s “stunned” mining is back on the agenda.
“I never thought it would come back to haunt us again.”
That follows reports of a new exploration consent with the possibility of another in the pipeline.
A public meeting called by the Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, KASM, is at the Muriwai fire station on September 5 at 7.30pm.
Consents have been issued allowing Rio Tinto to explore for minerals off Auckland’s west coast, covering more than 540 square kilometres, KASM says. It also says Australian company Trans-Tasman Resources, TTR, is likely to prepare for its first seabed mining consent in the same area in the next couple of months.
The public needs to be aware of the potential damage this activity causes, KASM says.
Four companies have permits for offshore exploration around New Zealand.
Along with drilling and sucking associated with the mining, there are serious concerns about the impacts on sea life from seismic and sonic testing.
The government has also come in for strong criticism from conservation and environmentalists for granting exploration permits to oil companies in four of the six marine mammal sanctuaries around New Zealand.
Green Party MP Gareth Hughes brands them “sham sanctuaries”. The sanctuaries are home to rare dolphins, whales and seals.
The low frequency pulses from seismic testing are “extremely loud” and could cause deafness or “the bends” in animals that come too close, Otago University marine scientist associate professor Steve Dawson says.
The government says it will regulate seismic testing by placing observers on surveying ships, and it is reviewing a 2006 code of practice. Seabed mining can also affect surf breaks and coastal land forms, KASM says.