Tuesday 8th August 2017
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Trans Tasman Resources has issued new shares on the eve of a ruling on whether it can mine iron sands from the ocean floor in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone in the South Taranaki Bight.
Documents lodged with the Company's Office show TTR increased the company's shares by 9.5 percent, issuing 14,874 new shares. Of those, 13,357 were taken up by executive chairman Alan Eggers. TTR said the share increase was part of the company's funding agreement that's been in place for several years.
TTR has sought permission to extract 50 million tonnes of seabed material a year to export up to 5 million tonnes of iron sand per year twice now. It was first rejected in 2014 when a committee ruled the environmental impacts of the proposal were too difficult to gauge on the evidence available. The company went back to the drawing board and a second hearing was held between February and May this year.
The Environmental Protection Authority-appointed decision-making committee delivered its ruling to the EPA on Aug. 3. A spokeswoman said the regulator is currently working through the logistics of how to make the report public, something that is expected to happen early next week. She said TTR would not have advance knowledge of the decision.
The project has sparked controversy as those opposed argue it will change the physical, chemical and biological nature of the seawater and degrade the quality of the oceans as a whole.
The sand is mined using a very slow moving crawler which creeps along the seafloor “vacuuming" up sand and seawater and pumping it to a vessel. The iron ore is magnetically separated and the de-ored sand, about 90 percent of the total, is immediately re-deposited.
According to TTR, the vast majority of the redeposited sand will settle back on the seabed and effectively fill areas previously dredged by the crawler. However, the process will form a "plume" in the water column, which will drift depending on tides, ocean currents and general weather conditions in an often turbulent part of the Tasman Sea. In both hearings, the main focus was on the impact of that plume.
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