The Decision Making Committee (DMC), appointed by the Board of the Environmental Protection Authority to decide a marine consent application by Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd (TTR), has granted consent, subject to conditions, for the company to mine iron sands off the South Taranaki Bight.
The Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) DMC decision is the first approval for a mining proposal in New Zealand’s extensive offshore Exclusive Economic Zone under the EEZ Act 2012.
“However, after hearing and considering all the evidence, submissions, reports and information, members of the Decision-making Committee did not agree in the final deliberations,” EPA said in its release.
Committee Chairman Alick Shaw and Dr Kevin Thompson voted to grant consent. Deputy Chair, Sharon McGarry and Gerry Te Kapa Coates, voted to refuse consent, citing concerns over localized adverse environmental effects and tangata whenua existing interests.
In accordance with the procedures adopted before the hearing began, the decision to grant consent, subject to conditions, was determined on the casting vote of Mr Shaw, as Chair of the DMC.
The committee’s rationale for granting consent is set out in the over 300-page decision document and includes conditions and operating constraints to limit the scale, intensity and duration of the discharge effects of residual material to the seabed, known as sediment plume, as well as impacts on marine mammals.
With the imposition of such conditions, TTR’s marine consent application to mine iron sands in the South Taranaki Bight is granted and will remain in place for 35 years.