In the New Zealand Herald Andy Kenworthy takes a look at seabed mining and the EEZ – an issue covered recently in a Royal Society of New Zealand Emerging Issues Paper.
An excerpt (read in full here):
Seabed mining: Buried treasure, or fool’s gold?
Seabed mining is the business of sucking huge amounts of sand from the sea floor, extracting valuable minerals from it using magnets and filters, and then pumping the remaining sand back down. Its supporters say it could provide a multi-billion dollar boost to the New Zealand economy and create hundreds of jobs without significantly damaging the ocean ecology. But opposers reckon that current plans will fritter away this resource for precious little return while devastating marine life, our fisheries and our beaches.
According to a recent report from the Royal Society of New Zealand, our seabed holds commercial mineral deposits on the Campbell Plateau, the Chatham Rise, and more potentially valuable sites along several arcs of active and extinct volcanic on the seabed around our shores. The active underwater volcanoes, or black smokers’, also hold out the tantalizing prospect that their continuing formation of polymetallic sulphides’ containing iron, manganese, gold, silver, copper, and zinc could become a sustainable and replenishing stock of these minerals. A six-year study by GNS science suggested that there could be tens of billions of dollars worth of minerals to be found offshore.
Currently four companies have permits to explore this awesome potential. One of the most active is Trans Tasman Resources Limited, which includes former New Zealand Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley on its board. The company was created in 2007 specifically to exploit the billions of tonnes of volcanic iron ore deposits in the sands off the west coast of the North Island. The company has been granted exclusive mineral rights out to 12 nautical miles along the Taranaki Bight from the Rangitikei River in the south and the Waikato River in the north.