How to support CRP’s marine consent application

The Chatham Rock Phosphate marine consent application is now open for public submissions. You can help our application succeed by making a submission in support.  

We’ve included below a summary of key benefits of the project, which might help you with some ideas as to what to say. Below is some information from the Environmental Protection Authority website to make the process as easy as possible for you.

The EPA says a submission is not a vote for or against an application; it’s what your submission says that’s most important – not how many people say the same thing. 

Further guidance is available from the information sheet ‘How to make a submission on an EEZ marine consent’.   See the submission information sheet

The EPA must receive submissions no later than 5.00pm (New Zealand Standard Time) on Thursday 10 July 2014.  To make your submission using the online form click Online submission form . You can attach a Word or pdf document at the end of the online submission form if you want to add further information.

Please note you must complete the online submission form within half an hour or it will time-out, in which case you will need to fill out the form again from the beginning.

Alternatively you can email, post or deliver a submission using this Word document Submission form (Word, 200 kb) It must reach the EPA and CRP before 5.00pm on Thursday 10 July 2014 by email, post or delivered in person.

If you’re emailing, send to  and format the subject line of your email with your name and Chatham Rock Phosphate Submission.  If you email your submission to the EPA, it’ll be automatically forwarded to CRP.

Alternatively the postal address is - Environmental Protection Authority, Private Bag 63002 Waterloo Quay, Wellington 6140 and if you deliver in person take it to Environmental Protection Authority, Level 10, 215 Lambton Quay, Wellington

If you’re posting you’ll also need to send to - Attention: James Winchester, Chatham Rock Phosphate Limited, C/-Simpson Grierson, PO Box 2402, Wellington 6140, New Zealand. 

If you’re delivering in person please mark it - Attention: James Winchester Chatham Rock Phosphate Limited, C/-Simpson Grierson, Level 24, 195 Lambton Quay, Wellington New Zealand.

If you need further information to guide you in preparing your submission check out Having your say about an activity If you have questions about making a submission or don't understand parts of the submission form, please email or phone 0800 382 527 or +64 4 916 2426 if calling from overseas. 

Information about our Marine Consent proposal

Chatham Rock Phosphate (CRP) has now applied for an environmental marine consent to undertake seabed mining at 400 m water depth, about 250 km from the Chatham Islands and 450 km from the South Island.

The marine consent process has a six-month prescribed timeframe so interested parties can make submissions and be heard at public hearings. The EPA has appointed a panel of experts who will base their decision on the scientific evidence they hear. Environmental considerations are balanced against economic benefits.  Assuming we receive consent at the end of the year we expect to start production in 2017.


To recap, New Zealand scientists discovered the rock phosphate resource on the crest of the Chatham Rise in the 1950s. Mining the resource has only become viable with the rising price of phosphate and advances in marine technology. CRP has identified at least 35 million tonnes within the mining permit area – more than a 20-year supply at expected production rates.

While we have applied for a large area we are proposing to mine an average of just 30 km2 a year – the equivalent of what the fishing industry bottom trawls in just 8 hours.

Our technical partner, international dredging company Boskalis will use conventional dredging technology attached to a long pipe to suck the top 30 cm of sandy silt up to a large mining vessel.  Mechanical sieving will separate the phosphate nodules (2 to 150 mm in size) and discharge the finer sand and silt from another flexible pipe near the seabed. No chemicals are involved.


CRP has spent more than $20 million on scientific research, including six CRP-funded surveys to the Chatham Rise. We have a highly skilled technical team (including three scientists who collected and interpreted most of the data in the 1970s and 80s) and our focus has been to:

·         evaluate the likely environmental impact of the project

·         identify ways to minimise and monitor effects

·         define the resource and develop a mining plan

Stakeholder involvement has been central to the project.  After talking to anyone with a potential interest (including environmental groups, the fishing industry, iwi and imi, media, etc) we’ve identified and investigated their concerns and provided information and mitigation options. 

Environmental benefits

The project will have localised environmental effects on the seabed within our permit area but will also have significant environmental benefits.  Some arise from substituting our product for phosphate fertiliser now sourced from Morocco and other distant locations. 

The benefits of using local phosphate include:

It reduces water pollution from run-off when used as a direct application fertiliser because it releases slowly, requiring less frequent applications than conventional fertilisers, further reducing its carbon footprint

·         It’s an organic New Zealand-origin product

·         It offers security of supply

·         It’ll reduce the carbon footprint by lowering transport distances

·         It has one of the lowest known concentrations of cadmium of any phosphate rock, which will help prevent cadmium accumulation in New Zealand soils, which in some areas is already at high levels

·         The rock is highly reactive, heightening its effectiveness as a fertiliser, and has strong liming qualities. 

Benefits for NZ and Chatham Island

CRP expects to sell the product to New Zealand and export to at least eight countries in the Asia-Pacific. The project also has significant economic benefits, including making New Zealand $900 million richer, according to the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

It will have particular benefits for the Chatham Islands.  We’ll be able to supply cheap fertiliser; little is applied there because of prohibitive transport costs.  Chatham’s Federated Farmers representatives estimate fertiliser could increase farm production 10-fold and add 350 new jobs. Given the current population is below 600, that increase in farm production could transform the local economy and improve the affordability of infrastructure such as power and transport. 

What about fishing concerns?

Our mining permit area – covering less than 1% of the Chatham Rise - is not a fishing area. The research predicts sediment effects will be confined to a few kilometres of our mining area, about 250 km from the Chatham Islands. 

The Deep Water Fishing Group is concerned about possible impacts on commercial fishing.  The key environmental effect will be sediment plume from the return of the fine material to the sea floor. 

Modelling predicts those sediment plume effects will be very localised, with sensitive organisms affected up to 7 km from the mining ship. Scientists predict silt and clay concentrations higher than 100 mg per litre will last for no more than a few days in the immediate mining area.  Sediment won’t rise more than 50 m above the seabed – well below the most biologically productive part of the water column where most fish are.