Decision made on Trans-Tasman Resources application

10 August 2017

Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd has been granted consent, subject to conditions, to mine iron sands off the South Taranaki Bight.

The Decision-making Committee, appointed by the Board of the Environmental Protection Authority to decide a marine consent application by Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd (TTRL), has granted consent, subject to conditions, for the company to mine iron sands off the South Taranaki Bight.

However, after hearing and considering all the evidence, submissions, reports and information, members of the Decision-making Committee (DMC) did not agree in the final deliberations.

Committee Chairman Alick Shaw and Dr Kevin Thompson voted to grant consent. Deputy Chair, Sharon McGarry and Gerry Te Kapa Coates, voted to refuse consent, citing concerns over localised adverse environmental effects and tangata whenua existing interests.

In accordance with the procedures adopted before the hearing began, the decision to grant consent, subject to conditions, was determined on the casting vote of Mr Shaw, as Chair of the DMC.

While the Committee worked collaboratively on the agreed factual narrative of the report, it recorded major differences in its interpretation of the evidence. These differences are set out in Part Two of the Record of Decision document.

The Committee’s rationale for granting consent is set out in the over 300-page decision document and includes conditions and operating constraints to limit the scale, intensity and duration of the discharge effects of residual material to the seabed, known as sediment plume, as well as impacts on marine mammals.

With the imposition of such conditions, TTRL’s marine consent application to mine iron sands in the South Taranaki Bight is granted and will remain in place for 35 years.

In its summary, the committee states: “Although some submitters had misgivings about the quality of information, we determined that it was sufficient for our purposes… and we are satisfied that we have been able to make our decision based on the best available information in accordance with… the EEZ Act.”

A pre-commencement monitoring plan must collect two years’ worth of data before mining commences. That data, and subsequent monitoring data during the operations, will further inform management plans and operational decisions, as required by the consent conditions.

The decision is subject to appeal on points of law by the applicant and any submitters. The consents commence after any appeals have been resolved.

Reasons for the decision to grant consent are only summarised in this media release. Detailed information can be found in chapters 4, 5, 6, 7 of the Record of Decision document.

All minutes in relation to decisions made by the committee during the hearing process can be found here.

Background information on the application, process updates, further hearing and submission information can be found here.

Information on the appeal process can be found here.

Because of the complexity of the decision document and issues that may arise from it, further media enquiries in relation to the decision can only be accepted in writing to:

Further media information is available here:

TTRL 2017 Decision Announcement 10 August 2017 and
accompanying Powerpoint presentation
Decision-Making Committee members
Operating in the EEZ: How to seek a marine consent
Who does what in NZ’s offshore waters
TTR Impact Assessment Summary
TTRL 2013 Application