17 November 2014
Author: Liam Hyslop
Phosphate mining should not be allowed on the Chatham Rise as it will damage marine environments, environment groups say. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started calling final submissions at its hearing over the application by Chatham Rock Phosphate (CRP) to mine phosphates off New Zealand's coast.
The Chatham Rise was an area of ocean floor to the east of New Zealand, stretching for 1000 kilometres from near the South Island to the Chatham Islands. CRP's proposal was to mine phosphate nodules in an 820sqkm area approximately 450km east of Christchurch, for which it already has a mining permit.
In addition to its mining permit, CRP requires a marine consent under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Act, which the EPA hearing will decide. CRP also sought to increase its area to more than 5000sqkm from the hearing.
Today, Greenpeace, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition gave a joint final submission.
Lawyer Duncan Currie, acting for the groups, told the hearing the application was "premature" due to the lack of information in many areas. "The Environmental Impact Assessment was far from adequate. There's a lot of information missing, but what we do know is that this mining will destroy virtually all life on hundreds of square kilometres of the seabed, including rare, vulnerable and endemic species."
That could include damage to coral and high levels of toxic materials leaking into the sea, he said.