Seabed mine developer Chatham Rock Phosphate's application to
the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for marine
consent to suction dredge the Chatham seabed has been
accepted as complete.
Acceptance of the application, lodged on May 14, means that
after public scrutiny, the EPA will probably make a decision
by November or December.
Listed Chatham Rock has spent more than $25 million during
the past four years on science, feasibility and seabed tests.
Chatham's 18.7% shareholder Boskalis is contracted to suction
dredge up to 1.5 million tonnes a year of phosphate nodules
from the Chatham Rise's top 300mm of seabed, at depths of up
to 425m, returning sediments to the ocean after screening on
Chatham becomes the shore-based phosphate marketing company.
Chatham got its separate mining permit from government
permitting agency Petroleum and Minerals in December, and in
coming months the EPA will publicly notify the application,
take submissions, hold a public hearing and appoint a
committee to make the final decision.
Chatham's managing director, Chris Castle, said the
acceptance was ''another significant milestone'' and the EPA
had a process that enabled anyone with an interest in the
project to have input.
He believed the Chatham phosphate resource could replace all
imports, was of a higher quality and had less environmental
impact, and could also become an export earner.