NZX Announcement - Valuable information gained from Chatham research cruise

17 January 2012

The information gathered during the pre-Christmas cruise by Chatham Rock Phosphate scientists will guide the development of a mining strategy, managing director Chris Castle said today.

GNS scientist Ray Wood oversaw the 11-day cruise to CRP’s licence area 450 km east of Christchurch and has begun analysis of the information collected.

“The survey collected information about the shape and character of the sea floor and the properties of the shallow sediments that will help understand the distribution of the phosphate resource.” 

“The quality of images gathered using the latest equipment shows incredible detail.”

“Maps showing the variability of the sea floor characteristics will be particularly useful as guides for subsequent voyages that will study the benthic habitats in the licence area and the physical properties of the sediments.”

The survey mapped 715 km2 of the sea floor, considerably more than the 250 km2 in the planned survey blocks.  Bad weather meant that 199 km2 of side-scan sonar data and 263 km of sub-bottom seismic and magnetic data were collected, somewhat less than planned.  

The moorings deployed earlier in the year to measure water currents and collecting other environmental baseline data were recovered and the data downloaded for processing and analysis.

Mr Castle said the combined dataset from the cruise should be sufficient to guide the development of mining technology and strategy, and identify priority areas for the first few years of mining.

Mr Wood said one of the most exciting features discovered were what appear to be iceberg furrows ranging from several hundred metres to more than 5 km long, hundreds of metres wide and 10 metres deep.  There are also numerous circular and oval depressions several hundred metres wide of unknown origin.

Mr Castle said combining the valuable information already held from the Valdivia and Sonne cruises of the 1970s and 1980s with the new data using more modern technology collected on the latest cruise means CRP is building a very rich information resource to continue the momentum of the project.

The data gathered are also helpful in improving the geologic context of the resource and for mapping glauconite concentrations.   Glauconite is another potentially valuable by-product contained within the sandy-silt that houses the rock phosphate resource.
CRP will spend the next few months undertaking more detailed analysis of the information and using the results to contribute to mining technology design, which is another thread of work underway.

Meanwhile CRP is putting the finishing touches to its application to New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals to outline the work programme for the second two-year term of its mineral prospecting licence. 

CRP will further advance its knowledge of the resource, the environmental baseline and the geotechnical properties of the deposit for engineering purposes as part of its focus of proceeding quickly towards applying for a mining licence – hopefully during 2012.

Chris Castle
Managing Director, Chatham Rock Phosphate Limited
021 55 81 85 or