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July 30, 2018 | by  | in News Splash |
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Seabed Mining Exploration Goes Against Iwi Wishes

An ironsand exploration permit has been issued to Ironsands Offshore Mining Limited in Taranaki, against the wishes of the local iwi.
In September 2016 Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust and Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust were told that an application for an exploration permit in their rohe was under consideration. Both iwi groups made submissions against the application; despite this, the permit was granted in May this year. The iwi were informed a month later. According to New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals (NZP&M) this is a “normal” timeframe.

The permit allows ironsands exploration to take place within West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary, which is close to a protected area and a marine reserve. The area protects sea mammals such as the endangered Māui dolphin.

“We find it difficult to understand how one arm of government, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, can cut across another arm of government [DOC] and make these kinds of decisions without engagement on the issue,” said iwi in a press release.
“Environmental impacts of activities proposed under a permit are not considered under the CMA [Crown Minerals Act],” said NZP&M. They are responsible for administering the Crown Minerals Act and granting permits, but mainly consider economic implications.
“NZ Petroleum and Minerals are not required to notify DOC when deciding on an application for exploration activities under the Crown Minerals Act 1991. Therefore, DOC was not involved in this process,” said Ian Angus, DOC’s Marine Species and Threats Manager. “DOC’s interests under all these legislative roles are about protecting species, ecosystems, and biodiversity.”

Petroleum New Zealand explained that while the zone prevents mining, exploration activity is allowed, as long as it is not seismic (i.e. potentially triggering earthquakes), and as the proposed activity does not include seismic exploration, the exploration permit was granted.
NZP&M said that they took account of the submissions and consulted with iwi; however, they monitor industrial practice, not the environment. Environmental concerns around proposed seabed mining are dealt with by the Environmental Protection Authority and DOC, and regional councils if/when resource consent is needed.
The wāhi tapu site of concern was not within the area of the exploration permit, and so the iwi’s worries were ignored.
Because the exploration is within twelve nautical miles of the shore, it comes under the domain of Taranaki Regional Council, which does not require the company to get resource consent for exploration.
NZP&M requires all holders of mining permits to engage with Māori who may be affected by mineral exploitation in the area, or whose rohe adjoins the proposed area of exploration. Though these stipulations may be encouraging, iwi are “fundamentally opposed to any new mining or prospecting activity taking place within our rohe,” said Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust Chairperson Leanne Horo.
“Although it’s only exploration at this stage, the implication is that if exploration is successful there is an expectation that a mining permit will be granted in an area that excludes this activity,” said Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust Chairperson Liana Poutu.
Currently, there are two mining permits, one prospecting permit, and three petroleum mining licences which overlap with protected marine areas in New Zealand.

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