Chatham Rock Phosphate Managing Director Chris Castle is delighted at the quality and number of submissions in support of its Marine Consent application to the Environmental Protection Authority to extract phosphate nodules from the seabed on the Chatham Rise at the rate of 30 sq km a year.
While a final analysis of the submissions will not be available until early next week CRP understands around 240 submissions have been received with a healthy proportion of these in favour of the application. In contrast, 4,702 submissions were received in respect of the recent Trans-Tasman Resources application, with 99.5% opposing the proposal.
A preliminary analysis of the Chatham Rock Phosphate submissions reveals many applications from those with relevant expertise and/or with substantive arguments in favour of the Chatham Rise proposal.
Further, only a few dozen submitters wish to be heard at the hearing, in contrast with the 2,175 submitters that wished to be heard at the TTR hearings.
“This lack of large numbers opposing our project implies a significantly higher level of community support. An additional benefit is the hearings will be much less burdened with repetitive, in-expert opinions and can more easily and effectively proceed with a more informed decision making process.
“We’ve had a great response from people and organisations who support our application because they recognise the environmental and economic benefits of the project. This includes eminent international scientists who have submitted because they think the merits of this project are so impressive. Their strong message is the comparatively minor environmental impacts can be managed and the potential benefits are simply too big to ignore.
“While we have yet to study the submissions in detail, we are disappointed by some of the inaccurate claims made by some opponents to our application. We welcome debate on our proposal but expect it to be based on facts. For example, some of the claims in the information KASM posted on its website for people to use for their pro-forma submissions are simply not true and do not reflect our proposed mining operations.”
CRP’s Marine Consent application to the EPA, filed in May, is working through a formal process to deliver a decision in November. The application, representing four years’ work and $27 million in investment, is the second under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act, and will be considered in a full public process by an expert panel appointed by the EPA. The Marine Consent is the only major licence CRP now needs, having gained a mining permit for its phosphate extraction project in December.
Mr Castle said he remains confident the application will meet the tough standard demanded by the law, because of CRP’s comprehensive science and consultation-based approach to its proposed mining operations, mitigation and monitoring.
“We’ve designed the way we plan to mine and how we monitor and mitigate any effects by building in the input of the many interested parties with whom we have consulted, to ensure their concerns are addressed. Throughout the past four and half years we’ve focused on building input from both stakeholders and scientists to ensure all the bases are covered in terms of environmental requirements.
“Critical to that has been the high quality science provided by NIWA and other advisers. Underscoring those efforts is the huge capability of our technical partner Boskalis whose resources, expertise and knowledge is simply unparalleled.
“Their engineers are able to draw on more than 100 years of expertise across 75 countries. Boskalis is undoubtedly the world leader in sea-based extraction operations and what has impressed us the most is how with every project the company undertakes, it devises innovative and environmentally sustainable methods, while always having safety as the first priority. It is the way Boskalis does business.”
CRP’s phosphate resource, located on the seabed of the Chatham Rise, offers fertiliser security for New Zealand’s primary industry, has big export and import substitution potential, as well as environmental benefits, making it a project of national significance.