Chatham Rock Phosphate (CRP) today achieved another major milestone on the pathway to developing its subsea resource on the Chatham Rise by filing its mining licence application with New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals.
The application is the culmination of two and a half years work since the company was granted a prospecting licence in February 2010.
“The application is a comprehensive summary of the scientific work we have completed and our plan on how we intend to extract the rock phosphate resource,” Chief Executive Chris Castle said today. “It’s a very significant achievement reflecting a huge effort by a very skilled scientific and management team.”
Establishment of a rock phosphate industry in New Zealand territorial waters will have significant economic, environmental and market benefits.
Mr Castle said the mining licence would be assessed by NZPM over the coming months. CRP plans to file its marine consent application, whose centrepiece will be a comprehensive environmental impact assessment report, in the first half of next year.
“We plan to issue the marine consent application as soon as the regulations for the EEZ legislation are complete. The current timing for this is April or May 2013, but if the regulations take longer to finalise, we will consider filing the application under the transitional provisions of the existing Continental Shelf Act.
“We need to keep the project timeline aligned with the major capital investment that will be made to develop the required mining technology.”
The mining licence application includes information on the rationale for the application; technical data on the location, physiography, climate, local resources and infrastructure, geology and understanding of the resource; CRP’s proposed work programme; its approach to environmental planning (full information will be included in the marine consent application); the company’s ability to manage the project and an independent economic assessment.
CRP holds an offshore prospecting permit covering an area of 4726 km2 on the central Chatham Rise. The permit area, in New Zealand territorial waters, is located 450 km east of Christchurch and includes significant shallow seabed deposits of rock phosphate. Establishment of a rock phosphate industry in New Zealand territorial waters has a significant number of economic, environmental and market benefits.
Today’s milestone is the latest in a list of achievements over recent months including:
- An assessment by the Institute of Economic Research valuing the project’s economic value to New Zealand at $1.3 billion
- Independent research house Edison Research saying the project is worth $381 million on an un-risked basis
- Dredging giant Royal Boskalis taking up a 20% shareholding and board seat in a world first for the underwater mining industry
- American private equity fund Subsea investing in a cornerstone shareholding
- International phosphate industry identity Najib Moutia joining CRP as Vice President strategy and marketing
- CRP pegging ground offshore Namibia to develop further rock phosphate deposits
- A four-leg $7 million summer research cruise programme collecting a wealth of data.
“We continue to make excellent progress in achieving milestones with our aim of being in production in early 2015. Everyone involved in the project is focused on ensuring our planning is comprehensive and that we stay on track towards that goal.”
Press Release, September 28, 2012; Image: Chatham