Taranaki Daily News
LAIRD HARPER | 30 October 2012
A group opposed to ironsand mining off Taranaki’s coast is set to launch a wave of protests.
From tonight, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (Kasm) president Phil McCabe will host a series of meetings in Taranaki about what the group has dubbed “the oceanic equivalent of open-cast mining”.
The group is rallying against companies, including Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR), which plan to mine the seabed along the west coast of the North Island.
Last year, TTR estimated at least 200 million tonnes of ore is within its licence area which stretches out to 12 nautical miles in two areas from the mouth of the Waikato River to Whanganui.
Recently, TTR said surveys along the South Taranaki Bight showed as much as 481 million tonnes of iron ore could be found in sand up to nine metres below the seabed.
The privately-owned New Zealand-based company was looking to mine about five to 10 million tonnes of ore a year, which would mean about 50 to 100 million tonnes of sand would be removed.
The ore would then be exported to China or Southeast Asia.
Mr McCabe said mining the west coast seabed for the purposes of exporting raw ore “is an economic folly” that would “degrade the Tasman ecosystem” for meagre returns.
“Foreign shareholders will reap the profit and we will have to deal with the impacts, which would likely include erosion and less fish in the water.
“The Taranaki and Waikato west coasts live off revenue generated by both recreational and commercial fishing and surf tourism.
“Seabed mining directly threatens the revenue from both sources.”
Kasm spokesman Tim Rainger said the meetings were designed to debunk the industry spin.
“We certainly don’t believe that the proposals we are likely to see will be of any value to the community, and will cause quite significant environment damage.”
Mr Rainger said although they didn’t know the exact time frame, they believed a TTR resource consent application was “imminent”.
He said they weren’t opposed to the idea outright but hadn’t been convinced otherwise.
“We’re not a bunch of raving loonies who are wanting to stop something just for the sake of it.
“If anyone can demonstrate positive benefits to the west coast community, we would be happy to hear them.”
He urged all coastal resident to get to at least one event.
The information evenings come after the Government passed a law governing the use of the country’s exclusive economic zones.
The new law, designed to manage the environmental effects of activities in New Zealand’s oceans, was passed in August.
It will regulate developments like seabed mining and introduce strict penalties for those breaching the rules.
TTR environment and approvals manager Andy Somerville said it was premature to speculate on what the environmental impact would be.
“We are still developing the plans,” he said.
“Until you know that, you don’t know what the effects will be.”
Mr Somerville said they were unwilling to outline a position yet but would talk to all the affected parties at the appropriate time.
Taranaki’s first Kasm meeting will be held at the Opunake Board Riders Club at 7pm tonight.