Iron sands min­ing plan the ‘same old car’

The Press - - Business - TOM PULLAR-STRECKER

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.

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