TDB – More mining our protected places

I’ve just had this published over at The Daily Blog. Check it out, and make sure you get your submission in by 5pm today.

Today is the last day for submissions on Chatham Rock Phosphate’s (CRP) marine consent application to mine the seabed in a protected area, in our most productive fishery. I just got my submission in which you can read here.

This is the second seabed mining application the Environmental Protection Authority has received recently, after Trans-Tasman Resource’s (TTR) ironsands mining application was declined. TTR’s application was rejected because of uncertainty around the environmental effects and CRP’s application contains even greater uncertainties; being considerably deeper, in a significant ecosystem, and in an area where 60% of our fishing catch comes from.

The project aims to mine the seabed about 400m down to get phosphate, used for farming application. The Chatham Rise is an incredible place where oceanic currents merge, supporting a thriving fish population. If you could dive to that depth you would see massive gouges where 10,000 years ago gigantic icebergs scoured the seabed, and incredible forests of slow-growing corals. In this area, fishers’ nets aren’t allowed within 100m of the seafloor, yet Simon Bridges has happily granted a mining permit which opens up the spectre of CRP literally vacuuming up the seabed, bowling ancient corals, and depositing the sediment back, potentially leading to muddy zones where corals cannot grow again. It’s outrageous that Bridges is content to undermine the protections supposedly provided by this Benthic Protected Area. This is yet another example of National’s disregard for our treasured places, along with permitting drilling and seismic testing in the Maui’s dolphin sanctuary, and logging and mining in our conservation estate.

I care about our threatened animals like the Maui’s and think protected areas should offer protection, and am calling for a moratorium on seabed mining, the next extractive industry battle ground, until the facts can be known. The Northern Territory in Australia has already declared a moratorium, and our billion dollar fishery is too important to risk. I’m taking a stand for the places and animals we love and I hope you can join me.


23 Comments Posted

  1. Whether you misinterpret what I said on purpose or not, the point about selling food overseas isn’t that we shouldn’t do it at all, but that we shouldn’t do it to any greater extent than we can SUSTAINABLY generate a surplus to sell.

    Your rant misses that detail Heiko, and I am not going to beat you up about it because it may not have been completely clear. Issues around Tourism are easily resolved by having a sufficiently high CO2 tax… and I really don’t care after that.

    You missed the other point though, and I was in a hurry so I didn;t say all I wanted to say.

    The nation cannot be dependent on just primary production and extractive industries… and tourism. That exploitative economic model is strictly third world… and an invitation to being pwned. Not a good look, but it might get National elected.


    The economic problems we have are deep rooted, but we do have to go back to having government involvement to ensure that the economy achieves balance. We USED to make Refrigerators and Driers and Washing Machines here. We should still be doing that… supporting that… so that it continues here. Same thing with furniture manufacture – here, not somewhere else. Wool garments and rugs. We have the raw materials, we should be making the goods. Several other areas where we have the potential but not the good sense, to have actual manufacturing jobs retained in NZ, as well as reducing out transfer of money OUT of NZ on the purchase of stuff overseas…

    … and then there’s the banks.

    Most interest gets paid to foreign banks. The nation as a whole is hemorrhaging every cent of its increased “productivity”.

    Moreover, this is a sovereign state, and should not be dependent on borrowing money from elsewhere to finance itself.

    Which is a point we’ve made and been ridiculed for, by people who don’t actually understand money half as well as they think they do, and don’t remember that both Jefferson AND Rothschild warned us (in different ways) about letting private banks control our money.

    “Bank-paper must be suppressed, and the circulating medium must be restored to the nation to whom it belongs.”


    “”And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies”

    and from Rothschild…

    “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.”


    So maybe we are a bit MORE conservative in our understanding of money than Mr Key and his ilk. He – coming from the FOREX market, and the largest corruption in the economic history of the planet and telling us all that he “understands this stuff”. I daresay he does, but it is not to his credit if that is true.

  2. Overall, the utter reliance of our economy, on … farming…

    Yeah, well if this laboratory produced milk works out, then we really are fucked, aren’t we.

    The degree to which NZ relies on farming and, to a lesser extent, tourism is deeply worrying. Anyone with a remote understanding of risk assessment would see that farming collapsing would be catastrophic event, even though the likelihood of that event occurring is relatively small. But one doesn’t just ignore risks with a catastrophic impact; one takes steps to ameliorate their potential impact.

    What are we doing in this respect? Not enough.

  3. DS, I have argued on this very blog that population is the core issue, but have been shouted down many times.

    No less a luminary as Sir David Attenborough has opined that the “frightening explosion in human numbers” was behind every threat to wildlife across the world.

    As to what is a reasonable limit for population of Planet Earth, the estimates vary from 1B to 700B. (yes, 700 billion). I would suggest the number is less than the current world population, and by some considerable margin.

  4. Perhaps the core issue is survival of mankind for another half millennia or more, I don’t really know. However; if it is, and our finite resources (as we currently understand and measure them,) are the major concern, surely the only “almost” sustainable way to ensure the birth of that 2,000 removed generation of descendants is to strictly control procreation of people.

    A limit of , say, 2 billion people on the planet would probably be sufficient, but perhaps there is already research into the right number within the sustainability movement?

  5. Hi bjchip,

    looks like you are a concerned guy … and you certainly make clear that there are plenty of things you don’t like: you don’t like the free market, you don’t like anybody (or is it just NZ?) to make money with producing and selling food abroad (her goes 30% of our national income), I am sure you don’t like tourism either (people need to hop on a plane which burns fossil fuel to visit us (here goes another 30% of our national income).

    While you are raising some valid issues – and while just stopping to make a living might resolve the environmental problems (if another 6 billion people follow this recipe – I am sure the good old globe could do well without all of us) … but it (stop to make a living, i.e. die) might not be the right solution for everybody.

    Question: is there as well something you positively and constructively propose we could do for a living to replace more than half of our national income you just disposed off? Or do you belong to the people who don’t worry where the money comes from as long as they can take it (tax it)? from somebody else?

  6. Overall, the utter reliance of our economy, on ever more intensive farming practices to the peril of our environment, is foolhardy in the extreme. To manage the phosphorus (and the related cadmium) is only a part of the problem.

    We are messing with the environment that supports us without understanding just what we do. This is about the pesticides and bee colonies, but it is also about the philosophical difficulties the “produce more at any cost” approach achieves.

    It is clear enough. WE cannot feed the whole planet. People are going to offer us plenty of money to produce food, and more as we produce more, but they are not going to CARE about what damage we may do to ourselves in the process, only in the price we charge and the amount we ship.

    So the economic system, being focused on the present and the next quarter and the profit of the moment is NOT going to protect the future productivity of NZ in its normal functioning to extract the most value possible from whatever it is we happen to be able to lay our hands on.

    This is a failure of the market. In the LONG run the price of food here and elsewhere, is going to skyrocket as the quality of our land and water is degraded. The only protection, such as it is and what there is of it, is the regulation of our land and resource use. This is utterly antithetical to the philosophy of this government, and we are destroying our future, the future of our children, as a result.

    It is… extremely stupid.

  7. Hi Bourke,

    not quite sure what the point of your post was … collecting some “Greenie” points from your audience?

    Sure, if we all could live on our little sustainably run farm without the need for artificial fertilizer, cars, planes, electricity, computers and communication (other than old fashioned talk) – wouldn’t life be wonderful? Or would you prefer to crawl back into a cave without light and fire (as all of our ancestors did some 50k years ago) – certainly still more “sustainable”?

    But halt – there is more! There are not just your kids (if you have some) but there are as well (roughly) 7 billion other people who might want to live. Unfortunately they can’t all afford to live how you want them to. Just not enough space around for everybody (less efficiency). As well – life wasn’t all smelling like roses in the times you want to send us back to. Just check your history about life in the stone age (not sure, whether you would call the middle age still sustainable – towns sort of drowned at that time in horseshit and other excrements …?

    Actually – the last example is as well a great point to highlight that professional Ney-sayers like the Greens today rarely add value (did they ever?). London did not drown in horse excrements (as your mental forebears predicted around 1900) and the world did not stop turning due to a lack of oil (as predicted in the 1970’s by the Club of Rome).

    I personally agree that we should try to reuse fertilizer if possible – but as a interim step I think that using less “dirty” fertilizer from the Chatham Rise (or wherever) would be preferable to what our agriculture is (legally) doing at current (using Cadmium polluted fertilizer from Morocco). Why do you fight so hard to prevent an improvement for our environment?

  8. Hi bjchip, actually I did answer your question (well, the unloaded part). Forgive me for not attempting to answering your self serving loaded part of the question which could come directly our of Marx’s “Das Kapital” … what century do you live in?

    Would however as well like to acknowledge that you managed to post three successive posts without name-calling – great start! And hey, you even presented some data to discuss, even if not all of them correct. Looks however we seem to agree that Cadmium in our soils is a problem. Great!

    Given that you seem to have deep rooted issues with the idea that anybody might make money in resolving an environmental problem – what other viable way (not financially benefiting anybody) would you propose to address the cadmium in phosphate problem (maybe supported by some analysis)?

    Your statement “bottom trawling is not legal in the area you intend to destroy” is obviously loaded again. So lets first look at the facts: it is correct that bottom trawling is not permitted IN SOME PARTS of the proposed mining area – in other parts it is permitted.

    BTW – mining would create in any way significantly less damage than bottom trawling, it is a one off (per section) and the ground could afterwards recover. Imagine it like digging up your garden (if you have one)… some earthworms might be killed by your spade, but they will soon be replaced by earthworms coming back from the vicinity). You could hardly call this “destroying” your garden – can you? Or maybe you are a different type of gardener than I am …

    Bottom trawling (vs mining) however comes again – and again – and again – and over much larger sections of the ocean floor (think 2 to 3 orders of magnitude).

    Your statement about “the area you (i.e. I?) intend to destroy” is another cheap dig – but hey, we’ve seen worse before, haven’t we? It is like you dreaming up a scenario and than you making your dream figure responsible for what you dreamt of. If you have this problem more often, maybe you should visit your friendly psychologist.

    Somehow I start however to get the feeling that you might have a different agenda, this is not about CRP’s proposal, isn’t it? Is there anything any mining company (or any farm, or any company making stuff) could do (other than rolling up their toe-nails) to get your support?

    And if we talk about the principle that everything others do must be sustainable … are you still driving a car? do you buy stuff from the supermarket or any other shop other your local farmers market (where farmers deliver their goods by ox-cart)? Are you using a cellphone or a computer (requires mining to manufacture these things …)? Are you a hypocrite?

  9. Organic management and enhancement of soils has many more benefits than using fertilisers. Organic management is a long term sustainable proctice.

    Intense mono-cropping or grazing both tend to do long term damage to the soils and the latter also to the surrounding environment.

    There is no free lunch. We exploit and damage for profit and then hope that the consequences are someone else’s problem.

    If there were no prospective future generations who will suffer the costs then justification of irresponsibility and avarice may get you by if your peers are equally uncaring or ignorant.

    Looking ahead hope for our next generations is not good. All ready the irresponsible uncaring exploitation of our planet and NZ leaved consequences that are becoming increasingly evident. That is what the green movement is about, and not more business per usual ignoring the damage done and permitting more of it.

    What part of the IPCC report is hard to grasp.

  10. Using fertilizer kills topsoil structure in the long term.

    The moneygoround of farming may push the farmers into using fertilizer to meet short term demand but an increasing number are going organic moving away from damaging their soil.

    Sustainable has nothing to do with the economics of stripping fertility for bankers interest payments. The philosophy of mining for short term gains without tending to consequences is irresponsible.

  11. Further to this issue.

    It appears that both Ravensdown and Ballance are providing products that are “not fit for purpose” for our farms.

    Further processing, rather expensive processing, is required to make the existing phosphate fertilizers useful. This would render the “intensive” farming processes far less economically viable in the short term. In the LONG term our ability to grow food and have any surplus at all for sale, is apt to be extremely lucrative. However, we do not have (in that long term) the ability to feed everyone. We are a small enough nation, everyone points out that what we do doesn’t matter. They are wrong, it does matter, it matters to us.

    The nodules that Chatham proposes to obtain would make it possible for farmers to continue unsustainable practices longer, but only until the supply runs out.

    We HAVE to do better than raping our environment in order to produce more primary product for sale in an effort to be the most successful third world nation we can be. That is, in the long run, a necessity that comes from our need to adapt to future changes in both the climate and the economies we trade with.

    The short term thinking that went into this proposal is not an option.

  12. For those inclined to join in here, the Cadmium issue is a REAL issue, particularly where we farm intensely.

    That means that we are in fact, obliged to consider how it gets addressed. That the point Chatham makes about it being a problem is real enough, even if their solution is self-serving.

    Not simple. Not when almost half the planet’s population is dependent on phosphate fertilizer for the additional food supply required to feed us.

    Trouble is coming from this as well as from climate change and overuse of antibiotics, and debt based money and the proliferation of weaponry.

    No simple answers… and our government is not preparing properly for any of the problems we face. It is ridiculous, but it points ridicule at us, and the media help that to stick.

  13. Unfortunately Heiko, I DID make the time to do just that.

    Bottom trawling is not legal in the region you are planning to destroy, so discussing that, which is also vehemently opposed by Greens is a bit misleading in this context.

    Placing a Carbon tax on the transportation of the minerals would be a wiser measure than obtaining this more local resource, cadmium free or no, from the seabed…. and then selling it overseas. I’d be more sympathetic if it were NOT sold overseas, but then your ECONOMIC benefits would be greatly reduced, and in this case “more sympathetic” isn’t actually the same as supportive. I’d still be opposed.

    For the same reasons too.

    You did not, as I predicted, answer the principle question I asked, though I give you credit for actually having the chutzpah to try.

    The Cadmium problem is a different one. One that can be addressed by actually removing the Cadmium from the fertilizer before it is applied to the soil. Wonder of wonders, this IS a possible thing.

    What it is NOT is cheap. Which is pretty much as expected. There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Farmers adopting more and more intensive farming techniques have been borrowing from the environment in so many ways to provide our lunch that it isn’t even apparent just how much trouble we’re in.

    Fair’s fair and they aren’t to blame for this, it is a societal issue at a much higher level and they are working with what they know and competing within the boundaries of the few regulations the free market fundamentalists have left standing.

    So the cheapest superphosphate we can get goes on the farms and there is no effort to remove the Cadmium and there is no reason to think about the more natural, less intensive, more phosphorus preserving methods of farming, or that even less simple recycling consideration I mentioned above.

    Understand something mate. Greens are about giving the people living 500 years form now, a shot at having something like a reasonable environment in which to live. That means that the phosphate resources you are so keen to suck off the seabed, are not going to last long enough to actually help much. We have to move in another direction.

    You want agreement from us on something like this, it is going to take that movement in another direction getting started. Even then I would have difficulty seeing it as anything but as short term money grab.

  14. bjchip, just keep talking, you are doing an amazing job. From your posts it appears you are quite good in name calling people you don’t know … and you seem to be as well an expert in judging proposals without having analysed the evidence (or just having read them). That’s the sort of people we need to politically and ethically lead our country – straight down to hell!

    Just in case however you just had a couple of bad days (happens to everybody) and are normally a reasonable person, than I recommend you read at least the environmental fact sheet of the proposal. Using the Chatham rise rock phosphate would significantly improve our New Zealand environment – less cadmium (which happens to be a metal) in our soils, less runoff and lower carbon footprint (compared to the Morocco imported fertilizer currently used in NZ). Yes, mining would create some temporary seabed disturbance (like picking up some sand, removing some components and depositing the reminder where it was before), but this disturbance is negligible compared to the huge damage our seafood industry does with bottom trawling (apparently legal) and certainly preferable to the damage our agriculture creates at current by using the lower quality phosphate fertilizer imported from Morocco. Wouldn’t it be time you focus on the real culprits?

    Show us that you can be more than a name caller and a ney-sayer!

  15. Yes, I said RECYCLING of phosphorus. As in separating waste streams and dealing with urine by doing something other than flushing it into the ocean. Not something to take into an election to be sure
    :-), but still something we’re going to have to figure out in the not too distant future.

  16. I have to wonder at the attitude of the bottom feeders who have infested the place though. The errors I make by being hasty are always doozies, but I am sick of seeing people putting their profit ahead of our future.

    What sort of jerk calls seabed mining which destroys our fisheries, to extract minerals that we can’t replace, selling those minerals overseas (for that will be the larger and more lucrative market), a way to IMPROVE the environment?

    I suspect that at least some of these posts are bought and paid for by the company itself.

    Doesn’t matter in the least. There is right, there is wrong and then there is this proposition… which takes it to whole new dimension of error.

    It doesn’t HOW much money this is worth today. Its going to be worth a lot more to us to ensure better recycling of phosphorus.


  17. Oh dear… I made a mistake… mixed it with Potassium because both start with P and both are quite incendiary. Oh dear Oh dear…. Woe is me.

    Somehow it is OK to worry about the irrelevant to the exclusion of the important. Or didn’t you notice that that was NOT the important point.

    No… of course not.

    Go ahead and explain how raping the environment of New Zealand to sell irreplaceable resources to the ruination of future generations is a good idea.

    No answer, no RELEVANT answer, is expected from you or any of your ilk.

    That is your far more important mistake. The one that put your wallet ahead of the future of New Zealand.

    Tell us how important it is for a few people to make money by selling off resources, turning NZ from a first world country into a third world country in the process.

    No? I didn’t think so.

  18. bjchip, maybe next time you might want to check your science before you post nonsense statements (about phosphorus being a metal). Have you ever seen or worked with phosphorus? Look into your periodic table – Phosphorus is classified as “non-metal” and closest to elements like Nitrogen and in the same class as e.g. oxygen and carbon. Phosphorus a metal – lol – green science, or just poor education (too much politics)?

  19. Typical of right wing business as usual at any cost and sustainability be damned attitudes, Mr Green doesn’t appear to understand WHY the phosphate has finally gotten to be so valuable that we are being paid for the rights to strip mine benthic protection zones.

    Lets make this really REALLY clear, Mr “Green”. You are arranging a catastrophe for future generations. You aren’t looking ahead, just looking for profit.

    The properties you claim for the seabed phosphate are a nonsense.

    The Chatham fertilizer is organic, can be applied directly on farms, is low in metals and will displace chemical fertilizers.

    Anyone who understands phosphates knows that phosphorus IS a “metal” and that it is provided in mineral form… that it does not “displace” chemical fertilizer, but must be present in addition to fertilizer and pesticides for the “green revolution” to continue… but that can’t actually continue much longer anyway.

    It depends too much on energy to last in the face of the climate changes that are coming.

    It would be nice if people actually understood, even slightly, the priorities that Greens have before they criticize those priorities based on some imaginary views we never entertained.

    That is not what we get though. What we get from the right are a combination of lies and abuse that would be annoying to a saint, and I am not one of those either.


    …as for you MAC, your vague idiocy is even less informative and informed than “Mr Green’s”.

    Describing this business as “environmentally beneficial” leaves me thinking of Pauli’s objection….

    “Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch”

    We look at the environment over a period of time rather longer than the attention span of a businessman. Your assertions are rejected.

  20. The matter requires some balanced discussion.

    I would have liked to have seen the Green Party do something productive and support an environmentally beneficial business like this in New Zealand.

    They could have taken an opportunity to convince the general public that they actually want to represent them in a way which is practical enough to help the environment rather than taking a puritanical approach which helps nobody.

  21. Every time you open your fridge for a drink of milk or eat veges you are adding to the deterioration of some river, lake or waterway.

    You could stop eating while living in your cave, or you could wake up and realise the world and its environment needs to be improved, and that the human population is not going anywhere.

    Chatham rock is one of the most significant green initiatives this country has ever seen and Gareth the politician has just jumped into the car with the fringe lunatics and left the majority of balanced green thinkers on the footpath.

    Talk about being on the wrong side of history.

  22. It is not green to use fertiliser nor strip the seabed.

    Both short term destructive measures.

    Mr Green in name but not in understanding it appears.

  23. Well, Gareth has totally dropped the ball.

    What a fantastic opportunity it would have been for the greater public to see the Greens actually support a business like chatham Rock that will IMPROVE the environment.

    The Chatham fertilizer is organic, can be applied directly on farms, is low in metals and will displace chemical fertilizers.

    It is low runoff and will help prevent red lakes in the Waikato and help improve the clean green image of NZ and the make the 100% pure slogan actually a little bit more truthful.

    Shame, shame, shame, shame on you Gareth, for selling your green sole.

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