Mining company seeks to overturn Pātea iron-sand decision

By Te Ao - Māori News

Ngāti Ruanui iwi is continuing their fight to save Pātea from potential mining exploitation as iron-sand giant Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) enters the Court of Appeal tomorrow.

In August 2018, Ngāti Ruanui led the charge, alongside 11 other appellants, in the five-year battle in the High Court in Wellington to ensure the Pātea coastline (South Taranaki Bight) iron-sands would not be mined by TTR. The High Court upheld their claim, rejecting TTR’s application for mining rights.

The seabed mining application, originally granted by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) but then declined by the High Court, now moves onto the Court of Appeal in Wellington, as all parties argue key points of law under the EEZ Act (Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012).

Kaiarataki of Ngāti Ruanui Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said, “This is a significant step, we are really getting down to the finer points of the law and determining how this new legislation for controlling what happens in our oceans is put to the test.

“We have been at the forefront this battle since 2014 seeing off the original application and now 5 years later in the Court of Appeal. Ngāti Ruanui is driven by the need to protect our environment and the future for our tamariki. The risk of massive coastal pollution and a coastal way of life changed forever must be stopped. We are the test case, but we know we are fighting for everyone who wants to preserve and protect our oceans.”

The iwi says after five years of research, expert opinion and numerous suggested conditions, "no one can say for certain that the coastline from Taranaki to Wellington will not be affected in some way by the vast plumes of sediments that will be created by TTR and their proposed mining activities under the sea."

Ngarewa-Packer called “upon the Prime Minister to stop this and appealed to the Green Party to honour the promises they made at the election.”

In a statement on their website, TTR stated that they lodged a notice in the Court of Appeal on 21 September 2018 seeking leave to appeal the High Court judgment of 28 August 2018 regarding marine consents for the South Taranaki Bight iron-sands project. 

They said the basis of their appeal is that the EPA did follow a legally correct approach in granting TTR a marine discharge consent, including a comprehensive set of consent conditions specifically designed to protect the marine environment and existing interests, particularly iwi.

Following the 28 August 2018 appeal, TTR issued a statement saying, "Of the eight different grounds of appeal only one was upheld and that was solely in relation to the correct legal meaning of “adaptive management” or the type of environmental compliance monitoring required to be incorporated in the TTR consents."

The Court of Appeal hearing will begin tomorrow morning in Wellington.

Read more:

Taranaki iwi wins seabed mining appeal - Rereātea, Aug 2018