18 August 2014
EPA staff report premature
The Environmental Protection Authority staff report issued today is premature and should have not have been issued until the information requested of Chatham Rock Phosphate was provided, managing director Chris Castle said today.
“In order to be a fair and balanced report, it should have taken account of information we either recently provided or is still yet to be prepared.”
Mr Castle said CRP would never expect a report at this stage in the process to recommend approval. “Otherwise what is the point of all of the additional information, the caucusing of expert witnesses, and the weeks of hearings that are still ahead.
“Of course there are uncertainties. That’s what this whole Marine Consent process is designed to identify and clarify, and it is important to remember that the decision will be made by an independent committee rather than EPA staff.”
Mr Castle said the key sentence in the report is: “EPA staff are not currently able to recommend granting this marine consent on the face of CRP's application as it stands, but recognises that there is more information to be provided, which may change our view."
“I should hope so – otherwise the value of a hearing process is undermined.
“However I do think it was unnecessary for the staff report to come out prior to us completing the additional information that was requested. I understand the report should not be too late in the process (as it was with Trans-Tasman Resources) but I think in this case it was too early.
“My other key concern is the EPA issued the report without any reference to us, in the middle of a business day. We are a Stock Exchange listed company and need to ensure our investors are continually informed. We had expected that the EPA understood the issues that would be caused by their releasing a huge swathe of information without us having the opportunity to assess the information and advise our shareholders.
“While the EEZ Act contains a prescribed process for dealing with Marine Consent applications, the EPA should be more careful to consider the commercial position of applicants when it follows those processes.
“We remain confident we have done the work to show we can undertake our mining operations in a sustainable way, and we believe the Marine Consent process will demonstrate this.
“I’d prefer to see a process that actually identifies how we can undertake seabed mining, rather than say why we shouldn’t, which I believe fits with the purpose of the EEZ legislation – that is to provide a way of enabling sustainable development.”
Contact Chris Castle on +64 21 55 81 85 or email@example.com