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Seabed mining company Chatham Rock Phosphate has launched a capital-raising programme, initially seeking $1.24 million as it readies itself for another tilt at gaining a marine consent from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
Chatham wants to mine phosphate from the Chatham Rise seafloor, but its first application to the EPA was turned down in February 2015, the company having spent about $33 million on research and development and the first application.
Chatham chief executive Chris Castle opened the offer for a pro-rata one new share for each five existing for shareholders at 0.4c, in an effort to raise about $1.24 million, issuing about 3.1 million new shares, a 0.05c discount on its current price.
"This offer is the start of a capital-raising programme that will likely continue through the first quarter of 2018," Mr Castle said in the offer document.
He estimated the cash required to complete the consent application and hearing would be about $6 million, with the preparation time running through to the end of next year, and the application being heard by the EPA’s decision-making committee by early 2019.
Separate company Trans Tasman Resources spent about $66 million on its first unsuccessful attempt, in 2014, to gain regulatory approval to annually suction-dredge five million tonnes of ironsands off the Taranaki seafloor, but its second attempt was successful, and it gained EPA approval in August.
Two appeals have been lodged in the High Court, with Kiwis Against Seabed Mining raising 15 points of law, while The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society is raising issues about marine mammals, including some which are critically endangered.
Chatham wants to suction up phosphate nodules from the seafloor at depths of up to 450m, taking up to 1.5 million tonnes. The area is 250km west of the Chatham Islands.
Mr Castle said he was "increasingly confident" Chatham’s application would be approved because of Trans Tasman’s success and amendments streamlining exclusive economic zone (EEZ) legislation.
"The decision to grant [Trans Tasman] the marine consent included significant detail on both the positive and negative attributes of Trans Tasman’s application and has effectively provided Chatham Rock Phosphate with a road map to further assist it through the permitting process," he said.
He believed changes to the EEZ legislation had removed some difficulties Chatham experienced during its first application.