Seabed mining

Looking for and extracting minerals from the seabed may require certain marine consents.

Prospecting and exploration in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf is regulated under a number of Acts and regulations:

  • Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (EEZ Act)
  • Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Discharge and Dumping) Regulations 2015
  • Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects - Permitted Activities) Regulation 2013.
The regulations Plus

Seabed mining involves a number of activities. Some of these are restricted by section 20 of the EEZ Act, such as disturbance of the seabed and removal of non-living material. Others are permitted activities under the Discharge and Dumping Regulations 2015. 

Prospecting and exploration

Part 2 of the Discharge and Dumping Regulations 2015, deals with the discharges of sediment from the prospecting and exploration for certain resources. These include iron sand and massive sulphide prospecting, as well as incidental discharges from phosphate nodule or placer gold. Discharge of sediment from these activities is a permitted activity as long as certain rules are followed. The rules vary depending on the relevant resource, but may include limitations on total discharges or require that no more material is discharged than is reasonably necessary. There are also pre- and post-activity requirements.

For more information on permitted activities associated with prospecting and exploration, see the marine scientific research, prospecting and exploration section.

Mining of minerals on the seabed

The activity of seabed mining, involves both removal of material from the seabed and the disposal of sediments once mineral extraction has taken place. Section 20 and 20A - C of the EEZ Act set out regulations relating to these activities. Both a marine consent and a marine discharge consent are needed for the production phase of seabed mining. These consent would be processed as a notified application.

For more information on how to apply for marine consents, see the Applications & Permits section.

Marine consent for seabed mining Plus

Removing non-living material from the seabed or subsoil, or depositing any thing in, on or under the seabed required a marine consent.

Marine consents

The EEZ Act regulates section 20 restricted activities other than discharges and dumping. These activities required a marine consent. Prior to submitting a consent contact the EEZ application team to discuss your activities.

Links to updated guidance documents which may be helpful in making an application, will be added shortly. 

When lodging a marine consent application with the EPA, you must:

  • fill out the prescribed form
  • fully describe your proposal which includes information on the environment you plan to operate in and the likely effects of your operation on the environment and existing interests
  • describe any actions your are planning on taking for the avoidance, remediation or mitigation of the adverse effects of your activities
  • provide an impact assessment that meets the requirements of section 39 of the EEZ Act.

To make an application for a marine consent, see the How to apply page.

Marine discharge consents

The EEZ Act regulates the discharge of harmful substances, or discharge of sediments from mining activities into the EEZ and CS from structures, submarine pipelines and ships. Discharges may require a marine discharge consent. Prior to submitting a consent contact the EEZ application team to discuss your activities.

Links to updated guidance documents which may be helpful in making an application, will be added shortly. 

When lodging a marine discharge consent application with the EPA, you must:

  • fill out the prescribed form
  • fully describe your proposal which includes information on the environment you plan to operate in, and the likely effects of your operation on the environment and existing interests
  • provide an impact assessment that meets the requirements of section 39 of the EEZ Act
  • provide sufficient information about the properties of each hazardous substance to enable the EPA to assess the environmental impact.

To make an application for a marine discharge consent, see the How to apply page.

Monitoring and compliance Plus

For permitted activities the rules and regulations you must follow in order to comply are listed in the EEZ Acts and relevant regulations. Marine consents however usually have additional consent conditions imposed on them. These may include different requirements to monitor the effects of the activity on the environment.

We monitor compliance with the EEZ Act, relevant regulations and any marine consent conditions.

Learn more about how the EPA monitors operator compliance.