New Zealand-based Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) has sought a licence from the New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals department to mine iron sands in the South Taranaki Bight, off the North Island's west coast.
TTR's application for permit, filed under the Crown Minerals Act, covers an area of 65.76km² within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between 22km and 35km off the coast of Patea, within the firm's current prospecting licence 50753.
New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals will review TTR's technical data on the proposed resource, the geology, the proposed work programme, as well as the company's ability to manage the project and address health and safety issues.
In addition, TTR plans to apply for environmental marine consent in October 2013 under new EEZ legislation.
Trans-Tasman Resources chief executive Tim Crossley said the permit for offshore mining of iron sands is the first step in the overall approvals process.
Since 2009, the company has been engaged in detailed baseline study programme and modelling of potential environmental effects.
"Based on the environmental research conducted by NIWA and overseas experience, we have refined our extraction and processing methodology to minimise the potential environmental effects of our operations.
"While the permit covers a relatively small area, the project should provide long term employment and benefits to the local communities of South Taranaki and Whanganui," Crossley added.
The company noted that the wider public will also have an opportunity to express their views on the proposed project once it applies for marine consents with the Environmental Protection Agency.