The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has refused Chatham Rock Phosphate’s (CRP) application for a marine consent to mine phosphorite nodules on the Chatham Rise in New Zealand.
The decision was made by a Decision-making Committee (DMC) appointed by the EPA Board.
According to CRP’s managing director Chris Castle, the decision is a negative signal for New Zealand business.
He said: “It will make it even harder, if not impossible for companies to attract capital for new projects in New Zealand. As the second application of its kind there have been some improvements in the process and were able to learn a lot and apply those lessons. If we can’t succeed having invested $33 million over seven years, then obviously the government is not serious about economic development.”
In the decision the DMC expressed it’s concerns about the permanent adverse effects of the project on the environment. The DMC explained that the project was “unlikely to generate more than a modest economic benefit to New Zealand and that the quantum and distribution of that benefit were uncertain. As against this, there would be significant and permanent adverse effects to the benthic environment and other potential environmental adverse effects. The DMC finds the economic benefits of the proposal to New Zealand to be insubstantial relative to potential adverse environmental effects of the proposal.”
Expressing it’s disappointment by the decision Chris Castle said: “To say we are bitterly disappointed is an understatement. We are aghast. The entire government process, and the EPA in particular, seems afraid to say yes to any project that involves any kind of environmental impact and that is simply not good enough if we are to provide a future for our country’s young people.”
“Obviously we need to take a bit of time to digest what the decision means and what our next steps will be, the options being an appeal, resubmitting, or walking away.”
CRP has a 15-working day period to submit an appeal to the New Zealand High Court. Following the refusal the share price of CRP crashed on the New Zealand stock exchange from 20 c to 3 c.