Iron sands mining plan the ‘same old car’
A lawyer representing fisheries firms says a revived bid by a mining company to scoop up a billion tonnes of iron sands off the Taranaki coast is ‘‘the same old car with a new lick of paint’’.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) met yesterday in Wellington to hear arguments for and against the venture from miner Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR), after rejecting its first application in 2014.
If the venture gets the green light, TTR would mine 50 million tonnes of sands each year for up to 35 years from shallow waters about 25 kilometres off the coast, separating out 5 million tonnes of concentrated iron ore, annually, for export.
Robert Mackill, representing Talley and other fishing companies, said they had ‘‘serious reservations’’ about TTR’s proposal.
Duncan Currie, an environmental lawyer representing Greenpeace and Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, said the proposal threatened marine animals including Maui dolphins and would ‘‘degrade the quality of the oceans as a whole’’.
TTR chairman Alan Eggers said the company was about 45 per cent foreign-owned, with the rest of the company held by New Zealand investors, including himself.
The company last year estimated the mining operation would directly employ 463 people, boost New Zealand’s annual exports by $350 million and result in the payment of royalties worth $7m a year to the Crown.
TTR’s original application was rejected by the EPA because of concerns about impacts on the marine environment.
The company has since modified its proposal, setting out how it would pipe the 45 million tonnes of waste sediment it extracted each year back on to the mined seabed.
Mike Holm, TTR’s legal counsel, told the hearing a lot of work had gone into analysing the plume that would be created when sediment was returned to the seabed.
He said the potential effects on the marine environment would be ‘‘very small to negligible’’.
Currie said TTR’s application differed in only two regards from the earlier application that had been rejected by the EPA.
Civil engineering firm HR Wallingford had provided more evidence for TTR about the plume – evidence which he said was ‘‘flawed’’ – and TTR had revised its economic model.
Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the proposal was a terrible one ‘‘not just in terms of environmental impacts, but also due to the potential damage to New Zealand’s ‘clean green’ reputation and tourist industry’’.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will voice its conditional support for the seabed mining on Friday week.
Another round of hearings will take place in New Plymouth in March and no date has been set by the EPA for a decision.
Developers accused of fraud
Four people have been accused of misleading ANZ into giving them a loan facility of about $40 million. Property developer Leonard John Ross, 50, company director Michael James Wehipeihana, 45, selfemployed consultant Vaughn Stephen Foster, 54, and one other person have been charged at the Auckland District Court. The Serious Fraud Office alleged the defendants made false statements and used forged documents to obtain a credit facility to allow a company, Emily Projects Ltd, to develop the Waldorf Celestion Apartment Hotel in Auckland. They each face four charges of obtaining by deception, and two charges of using forged documents. Name suppression has been lifted on two of the defendants and was not sought by another.
Queensland bans Wicked
Legislation has been introduced in Queensland aiming to ban offensive slogans from rental van company Wicked Campers. Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said Wicked had been ‘‘put on notice’’ when the state Parliament passed laws on Tuesday to punish operators who refuse to remove offensive slogans from vehicles. Australia’s Advertising Standards Board will determine if a slogan is inappropriate and an operator will then have 14 days to remove the offensive words and images, or the vehicle will be deregistered. Trad conceded the legislation, expected to come into effect by March 31, extended only to vehicles registered in Queensland. Wicked Campers has also faced the wrath of the New Zealand Government, with the country’s chief censor last year banning a handful of its most offensive vans from the road.
Tainui Group appointment
Tainui Group Holdings (TGH) has appointed Robert Batters as general manager of operations. Batters’ most recent role was at Transpower, and he was previously a senior project manager for Meridian’s Te Uku wind farm in Raglan. TGH chief executive Chris Joblin said Batters would bring considerable experience in driving large-scale infrastructure and development projects to completion. Batters, who is of Ngapuhi and Te Roroa descent, said: ‘‘I am looking forward to getting involved and playing my part to grow the commercial assets of the WaikatoTainui people.’’ He begins in the role on February 20.