New Zealand's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved Trans-Tasman Resources' (TTR's) marine consent to recover and export iron sands offshore in the South Taranaki Bight (STB).
The decision is the first approval for a mining proposal in New Zealand's extensive offshore exclusive economic zone under the EEZ Act 2012. The application area is located in the South Taranaki Bight 22 to 36 kilometres off shore and encompassing approximately 66 square kilometres within the EEZ.
TTR proposed the exaction of up to 50 million tonnes of seabed material per annum and process that on an "integrated mining vessel" (IMV). Approximately 10 per cent of the material will be processed into iron ore concentrate which is retained for later shipping. The remaining de-ored material will be returned to the seabed by way of a controlled discharge.
The EPA found that the mining operation would not have any significant effects on fish at a population level, and that most of the effects on the environment would be temporary.
TTR says it is now focused on moving forward to develop the project by building and commissioning the IMV, support vessels and infrastructure, with the first iron ore shipments anticipated to commence in 2020.