Chatham Rock Phosphate Reduces Application Area
Chatham Rock Phosphate has advised the Environmental Protection Authority that it will remove the eastern end of application area covered by prospecting permit 55967, comprising 4,985 km2 and representing about half the total, so the area for which marine consent is being applied now totals 5,207 km2.
“Reducing the size of the Company’s application area will have no impact on CRP’s mining plans for the first 15 years, which is covered by its approved mining permit and is subject only to a marine consent,” Managing Director Chris Castle said.
“It just removes areas covered by a prospecting permit application. However, it will simplify questions from the EPA and submitters because it means no seabed mining is being proposed by CRP on this part of the Chatham Rise. The Company will only consider mining in that area once more assessment has been carried out.”
CRP is currently finalising its responses to the requests by the decision making committee (DMC) for further information. These requests, dated 9 June, 17 and 25 July and which are a normal part of the process, are wide ranging and some have required CRP to commission new research and reports. In order to incorporate this new information as well as the impact of the reduction in application area, CRP has been granted an extension to the timetable for its responses to the EPA, which were due to be submitted this week, and now has until 25 August to submit its evidence.
The scope of the questions includes more detail on the benefits of the project to New Zealand and the Chatham Islands, commercial viability, effects on commercial fishing, migrating eels, benthic fauna, fish spawning, sediment chemistry and trophic modelling, toxicity thresholds, trace elements, habitats and seabirds, noise, ocean currents and phosphate prices.
CRP says the changes will not impact on the expected end date of the decision-making timeframe or its proposed mining plan.
“We do not believe the additional time involved in preparing responses and evidence will impact on the decision-making timeframes. Our advice is that a decision on the application is still manageable by the end of November.” Castle said the CRP team is focused on providing accurate and considered information in response to the requests from the decision-making committee.
“We think taking the extra time now is really positive because it helps clarify questions at an earlier stage and will enable more efficient use of time later in the process. A stitch in time saves nine, as they say.”
“CRP wants to ensure the final package available to the DMC and submitters contains the most up-to-date information before the process advances. We also want to make sure everyone understands the scope of the application area so this can be addressed in evidence and answers to the information requests.
“We think this approach will benefit all parties. It’s consistent with the interests of the community in being able to achieve an adequate assessment of potential effects of CRP’s proposal.
“Also importantly we think the additional time invested now in providing more detailed information and greater clarity about the application area will ultimately allow both the pre-hearing preparation process and the hearing itself to be conducted as efficiently as possible.
“In that respect, we expect the additional time taken now will require reduced hearing time, particularly as only 75 of those who made submissions wish to be heard, compared with 2,175 in respect of Trans Tasman Resources.”
CRP has also asked for the time extension will also apply to the EPA’s staff report, which the DMC is currently considering.
“We think the EPA’s report will offer greater assistance to the DMC once it takes into account the responses provided to the requests for further information.”
Press Release, August 05, 2014