18 August 2014
Source: Yahoo! Business and Finance New Zealand
Author: Patrick Smellie
The Environmental Protection Authority says it cannot recommend in favour of a proposal to mine phosphate nodules from the seabed on the Chatham Rise, saying there are too many uncertainties about the environmental impacts of Chatham Rock Phosphate's plans on an important fishery.
The report, by EPA staff, becomes an input to hearings scheduled to start on Sept. 25 on CRP's proposal to mine an initial 820 square kilometre area in its first five years of operation at a site some 400 kilometres east of Christchurch.
It would seek to expand,to an area of 5,207 square kms over the projected 30 year life of the project, which CRP says would replace the country's reliance on imported phosphate from Western Sahara for its farm fertiliser needs and could create a new export industry.
The 175-page report published today concludes that "EPA staff are not currently able to recommend granting this marine consent on the face of CRP's application as it stands, but recognise that there is more information to be provided, which may change our view."
CRP had already sought a fortnight's extension to give it time to prepare additional answers to questions from the EPA and submitters, relating to its bid for a marine consent to mine the ocean floor in New Zealand's vast offshore Exclusive Economic Zone. It also halved the size of its application area, saying it could apply for more later.