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Environmental authority rejects proposal on the seabed mining

The rejection of a mining project on the seabed was celebrated by the fishing industry. (Photo: Environmental Protection Authority)

Click on the flag for more information about New ZealandNEW ZEALAND
Thursday, February 12, 2015, 02:00 (GMT + 9)
An application submitted by a mining company to extract phosphorous from the seabed off the coast of Canterbury has been rejected by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
Chatham Rock Phosphate had proposed to mine at least 30 square kilometres of phosphorite nodules each year from the Chatham Rise, at depths of between 250 and 450m, approximately 450km east of Christchurch.
George Clement, Chief Executive of the Deepwater Group and Executive Chair of Seafood New Zealand noted that if the decision had been positive, it would have resulted in widespread habitat destruction, affecting water quality, the marine food web, benthic fauna, fish spawning and New Zealand's  conservation heritage.
EPA General Manager Applications & Assessment Sarah Gardner, noted that mining would cause "significant and permanent adverse effects" on the existing benthic environment on the Chatham Rise, the environment close to the seabed, the agency informed in a press release.
After the news was known, Chatham Rock Phosphate shares slumped by 85 per cent, while the company's managing director Chris Castle expressed his strong disappointed with the decision.
"The entire government process, and the EPA in particular, seems afraid to say yes to any project that involves any kind of environmental impact and that is simply not good enough if we are to provide a future for our country's young people," the executive pointed out, NZ Herald reported.
Castle said his company had not decided on its next step, whether to appeal, resubmit, or walk away.
In its project, Chatham Rock had claimed that sourcing rock phosphate locally would significantly improve New Zealand's balance of payments by reducing imports.
EPA's decision was well received by NGOs and environmental groups among them, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and Greenpeace.
According to Gary Taylor, Environmental Defence Society chairperson, the committee's decision reflects that in the absence of certainty about the adverse effects of a proposal on the environment, protection and caution is favoured. He also stressed that a strategic planning guidance is needed to ascertain what kind of activities are acceptable and where.
"What the refusal of this application and the earlier one by Trans Tasman Resources demonstrates is a clear need for a planning framework for our exclusive economic zone," he said.
A year ago, another mining company, Trans Tasman Resources had submitted an application to mine iron sands off the North Island's west coast, which was rejected by the EPA. However, its management indicated that it would continue developing the project.
Chatham Rock Phosphate has 15 days to lodge any appeals. 

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