Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) said it will appeal in higher court against the New Zealand Government’s rejection of its proposal to mine iron sand from the ocean floor off the coast of South Taranaki Bight.

In June, New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) rejected TTR’s application for $70m underwater iron sand mining project citing uncertainty over the project’s environmental impact.

While rejecting the proposal, the EPA said that it was not enough to convince the committee that the life-supporting capacity of the environment would be safeguarded or that the adverse effects of the proposal could be avoided, remedied or mitigated.

TTR CEO Tim Crossley said the company has now studied the decision in detail with the assistance of their advisers and experts and is confident that there are strong grounds for a successful appeal.

"Because this will now be dealt with through a court process, TTR will not be commenting further and we are not yet in a position to disclose the basis of our appeal as these will be sent to the EPA and submitters in the first instance before being released by the EPA," Crossley said.

"The company has now studied the decision in detail…and is confident that there are strong grounds for a successful appeal."

TTR noted that it had already spent more than $60m to mine a 65.76km² area to extract up to 50Mt of sediment a year.

The company also highlighted the benefits of the project claiming that it will create 250 direct and 170 indirect jobs and contribute $240m and $302m a year respectively to the GDP of Taranaki and the country.

Meanwhile, the environmental lobby group Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has issued a statement saying that it would oppose TTR’s appeal against EPA decision.

EDS executive director Gary Taylor said: "The EPA’s decision-making committee (DMC) agreed with EDS (and other submitters) that TTR’s case was underdone and uncertainties of the effects on the environment and existing interests meant it was required to favour caution and environmental protection."

"It also decided that the proposed adaptive management approach was not sufficiently certain or robust to give ‘the degree of confidence’ needed to be able to grant consent."

Image: Trans-Tasman’s proposed underwater iron sand mining in the South Taranaki Bight, off the coast of Patea. Photo: courtesy of Phillip Capper.