TransTasman Resources (TTR), in a statement disclosing the rejection ahead of detail from the EPA, said it was “extremely disappointed with the decision”.
The company spent some $NZ60 million ($A55.86 million) over seven years developing the project, which it believed could be achieved in an environmentally sustainable way and create around an additional $NZ150m a year from the annual export of about five million tonnes of titano-magnetite iron ore to Asian steelmills.
It planned to use a suction dredging process some 22-36km off the coast of Patea that would have returned 90 per cent of the sands to the ocean floor.
“We have put a significant amount of time and effort into developing this project including consulting with iwi and local communities and undertaking detailed scientific research to assess environmental impacts of the project,” said TTR chief executive Tim Crossley in Wednesday’s statement.
“Our objective has been to develop an iron sands extraction project which achieves substantial economic development while protecting the environment.
“We will be carefully analysing the decision over the next few days and will take our time to consider what this means for the South Taranaki Bight project and for the company.”
TTR has 15 days to lodge an appeal, but the next step in the company’s plans had been to raise as much as $US550 million ($A595.08m) in new debt and equity to fund the project.
“The bottom line is our New Zealand staff and consultants now have a very uncertain future and the local community will not benefit from hundreds of new jobs and an estimated $NZ240 million dollars increase in GDP, annually,” said Mr Crossley.
The result is a victory for Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), which mobilised large numbers of opposing submissions to the project ahead of hearings that lasted two months between March and May.
However, it is a blow to the government’s desire to help mineral extraction projects boost the economy.