Hearing on Taranaki seabed mining proposal opens

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The Environmental Protection Authority has begun hearing evidence about an application to mine the South Taranaki seabed for iron sand.

Trans Tasman Resources Ltd (TTRL) wants marine consents to mine nearly 66 square kilometres of seabed offshore from Patea.

"Evidence from TTRL confirms that the Iron resource off the west coast of the North Island including within the South Taranaki Bight is world class," says Mike Holm, legal counsel for TTRL.

"All effects are negligible, or able to be acceptably managed. In our submission there are no effects that would warrant the decline of the consent. To the contrary, there are significant positive benefits that will result from the proposal," says Mr Holm.

But, most of the groups presenting submissions oppose the application.

Greenpeace and Kiwis Against Seabed Mining joined forces in opposition to the application.

"There is far from sufficient information on benthic effects, other ecological effects and marine mammals. This is almost self-evident since further work has not been done since the first application. The South Taranaki Bight is an important habitat for blue whales particularly as a foraging area, and sightings and acoustic detections indicate blue whales use this region throughout the year," says Duncan Currie, legal counsel for Greenpeace.

Five fishing companies have also joined to make their opposition known, questioning further if the new application showed adequate changes.

"We wonder if this is simply the same car, with a new lick of paint," says Robert Magkill, legal counsel for the Fisheries Submitters.

Forest and Bird also oppose the proposal.

On day two - commissioners begin hearing evidence from Trans Tasman Resources Ltd.

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