Chatham Rock Phosphate has announced that it has advised the Environmental Protection Authority that it will remove the eastern end of application area covered by prospecting permit 55967, comprising 4,985 km2 and representing about half the total, so the area for which marine consent is being applied now totals 5,207 km2.
“Reducing the size of the Company’s application area will have no impact on CRP’s mining plans for the first 15 years, which is covered by its approved mining permit and is subject only to a marine consent,” Managing Director Chris Castle said.
“It just removes areas covered by a prospecting permit application. However, it will simplify questions from the EPA and submitters because it means no seabed mining is being proposed by CRP on this part of the Chatham Rise. The Company will only consider mining in that area once more assessment has been carried out.”
CRP is currently finalising its responses to the requests by the decision making committee (DMC) for further information. These requests, dated 9 June, 17 and 25 July and which are a normal part of the process, are wide ranging and some have required CRP to commission new research and reports. In order to incorporate this new information as well as the impact of the reduction in application area, CRP has been granted an extension to the timetable for its responses to the EPA, which were due to be submitted this week, and now has until 25 August to submit its evidence.
The scope of the questions includes more detail on the benefits of the project to New Zealand and the Chatham Islands, commercial viability, effects on commercial fishing, migrating eels, benthic fauna, fish spawning, sediment chemistry and trophic modelling, toxicity thresholds, trace elements, habitats and seabirds, noise, ocean currents and phosphate prices.
CRP said the changes will not impact on the expected end date of the decision-making timeframe or its proposed mining plan.
“We do not believe the additional time involved in preparing responses and evidence will impact on the decision-making timeframes. Our advice is that a decision on the application is still manageable by the end of November.”
Mr Castle said the CRP team is focused on providing accurate and considered information in response to the requests from the decision-making committee (DMC).
Press Release, August 5, 2014