web analytics

Brownlee pushes undersea mining

Written By: - Date published: 12:04 pm, May 9th, 2010 - 37 comments
Categories: Conservation, Mining - Tags: , ,

The Herald has an article on the government investigating the mining potential of seamounts. These are extinct underwater volcanoes, which are rich in unique sea life and ecologies that include some of our most important fisheries, and minerals.

We know that on-shore mining is environmentally destructive, underwater mining would be magnitudes worse – indiscriminate dredging and drilling that would devastate those environments and the fisheries that depend on them.

Ludicrously, Gerry Brownlee claims the government isn’t planning to mine the seamounts. Yeah, they just send out a NIWA research vessel to investigate the mineral potential of the seamounts for the hell of it.

Brownlee says: “We have no plans whatsoever to prospect offshore”. The truth is, Brownlee has already given underwater mining the go ahead.

You’ll remember Widespread Portfolios, the mining company that Murray McCully owns shares in. Back in February, Brownlee issued a permit to Widespread Portfolios for prospecting 4,700 sqkm of the Chatham Rise. They’re hoping to mine phosphates.

It’s a separate range of seamounts from the ones the NIWA vessel Tangaroa is currently investigating but the Widespread Portfolios website says that they have contracted NIWA for exploratory work. So, we can expect Tangaroa will be doing more work in preparation for undersea mining in the coming months.

Brownlee needs to stop being so secretive and undemocratic. He needs to front up with his plans to mine valuable and irreplaceable ecologies.

37 comments on “Brownlee pushes undersea mining ”

  1. greenfly 1

    Please please please can Gerry be the onsite observer!!!


  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    He needs to front up with his plans to mine valuable and irreplaceable ecologies.

    If he does that then he’ll be going against the modus operandi of the government.

  3. Bored 3

    Gerry disgusts me with his trite little defense line “everyday we use things that are a result of mining”…..of course we do and we accept that there is some need to mine. He does not seem to have caught up with the actual environmental costs he proposes and opened them to debate. Rather he is rewarding a self serving lobby who dont see species or ecosystems, only minerals and money.

    One thing you can be sure of, if we asked those same self serving people to mine Gerrys head they would demure, they have pretty much proven theres nothing inside it of any note or worth.

  4. vto 4

    open cast?

  5. Croc 5

    Which important NZ fisheries are you referring to?

    According to MoF the deep-water fisheries in our EEZ include six of our 10 most important commercial species of fish squid, hoki, orange roughy, ling, hake, and jack mackerel. Only one of those, orange roughy spawns on sea mounts. Apart from the odd Hoki (ie negligible amounts) all other species in the top 10 species never encounter sea mounts.

    The situation is bad enough without resorting to hyperbole.

    • Marty G 5.1


      The Chatham Rise (where the permit Brownlee issued is for) is New Zealand’s most important fishing ground.

      Seamounts are important fisheries because they create upwells that bring nutrients into the photosynthetic zone – offering an opportunity for life that doesn’t exist elsewhere offshore.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      Ah, another from the ignorance is bliss brigade.


      An artificial reef is a human-made underwater structure, typically built for the purpose of promoting marine life in areas of generally featureless bottom.


      Seamounts often project upwards into shallower zones more hospitable to sea life, providing habitats for marine species that are not found on or around the surrounding deeper ocean bottom.

      Reefs and sea mounts tend to promote a massive diversity of marine life that just isn’t found anywhere else.

      • Croc 5.2.1

        Yeah, I’m well aware of this. I trained as a marine ecologist and work in fisheries now. My point is perhaps a pedantic one, but the statement was made that sea mounts contain “some of our most important fisheries” which simply isn’t true. Sea mounts are spawning grounds for orange roughy yes. But not really important for any other major NZ fishery.

        I also take point with the “The Chatham Rise (where the permit Brownlee issued is for) is New Zealand’s most important fishing ground.” Based on what? Sheer tonnage of fish taken from that area, or value or what exactly?

        Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you wholeheartedly that sea mounts are unique features with diverse ecological and in many cases endemic species to each particular sea mount and should not be mined (let alone fished…). Perhaps you can step down from that ‘ignorance is bliss brigade’ high horse and take some advice from someone who has actually been on a fishing boat on the Chatham Rise? Your call.

        • Marty G

          fair enough but your point seems a bit pedantic. If I understand, you’re not arguing that seamounts aren’t important ecologies or vital for our fishing industry, you’re arguing over the definition of fishery. Like I say, fair enough.

  6. Jenny 6

    Now that Maori have been promised rights over the Seabed and Foreshore.

    Theoretically couldn’t Maori spike Brownlee’s plans?

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Theoretically, I suppose – if you believe that such wasn’t part of the plan in the first place.

    • Jenny,

      I have a question for you.

      To the others please don’t mind me and apologies because I don’t want to threadjack OK but I don’t have another way of contacting Jenny.

      A couple of weeks ago you wrote that the Waihopai satellite dish was moved to neutral position even though the deflated cover could damage the dish with it’s weight.

      My question is how do you know this and where could I verify?

      Capcha: researchs. I swear this thing is sentient.

      [lprent: ‘sentient’ – After poking around in its brain for a while, I’d say that bacteria have better written code. ]

  7. Sonny Blount 7

    Labour awarded Neptune Minerals licences to mine over 50,000 km^2 of seafloor including over 50 seamounts in 2006.

    • mach1 7.1

      Do you mean the 2005 permits to sample with NIWA monitoring the sampling operations to provide an independent baseline environmental impact assessment, Or are you referring to Neptune preparing to lodge its first mining licence application in New Zealand to meet its goal of trial mining by 2010?,

      • Sonny Blount 7.1.1

        I refer to prospecting licences PL39 195(Kermadec) granted 2002, PL39 194(Monowai) granted 2006, amd PL39 205(Colville) granted 2006.

  8. Sonny Blount 8

    Trans Tasman Resources were granted licences (permit 50383) to prospect over 6000 km^2 off the coast of Taranaki and Waikato (Maui dolphion habitat) in 2008.

    • lprent 8.1

      I must say that the detail of debate has improved. Someone actually referring to the license numbers rather than repeating spinsters waffle…

      Help me out though, is there a place to read these online? I can’t seem to see a government site (work is so distracting)…

      • Sonny Blount 8.1.1

        I can’t get the crown minerals map to load so I got that info off the companies own websites.
        TTR was linked to in a Herald article from may 2008 iirc.

  9. When the mining thing started to emerge I added the black sands from Auckland to Taranaki to the list of threatened areas.

    The attention is now being turned to the undersea mountains and I predict that the next one is those black sands. Relatively easy to mine, rich in metals and they have been prospecting them already.

    A classic switch and bait, switch and bait. I mean how can a bit of sand dredging hurt. Yeah right.

  10. Dammed 11

    Our EEZ is an interesting challenge.
    It is about 10 times bigger than our dry land size.
    What are we going to do with it?
    If we don’t do something with it – sure as heck someone else will!

    • Marty G 11.1

      Um, do you understand the meaning of ‘Exclusive Economic Zone’? That means no-one else can do anything with it unless we give permission.

      • RedLogix 11.1.1

        Why are we even discussing this? Apparently the seabed never belonged to the Crown and therefore the notion of an EEZ is pure fairytale.

        It belongs to various iwi, and the notion of our ‘permission’ is a risible nonsense. Please stop talking as if New Zealand had anything to do with it.

  11. Zak Creedo 12

    Gee.. something never change.. It was martyG blogging the time I was here before to suggest that seamounts could use some constructive scrutiny.. because, people, they are known by virtue of location/s to aid ocean movements, impacts, swells and corrosion of shore lines.. methinks — emphasis thinks — how maybe some rearranging of said seamounts could render more beneficial oceanic movements etc..

    And yes, MartyG, you came on strong about cracking up ecosystems, a feature I had not overlooked at all, but opted to have folks consider maybe loss of some eco someplace in exchange for more nenign ocean activity around and along many coastal places human beings have come to make a life for themselves..

    Scrutiny.. then mebbe measure and monitor — Science-based of course — then constructive options.. rather than what looks here as all too often blind condemnation.

    • Marty G 12.1

      Gee. that’s some pretty serious geo-engineering you’re talking based on a hunch – pretty big costs for supposed gains.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Worsening housing crisis must prompt action
    A growing public housing waiting list and continued increase of house prices must be urgently addressed by Government, Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said today. ...
    4 hours ago
  • Twenty highlights of 2020
    As we welcome in the new year, our focus is on continuing to keep New Zealanders safe and moving forward with our economic recovery. There’s a lot to get on with, but before we say a final goodbye to 2020, here’s a quick look back at some of the milestones ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Better care for babies with tongue-tie
    Babies born with tongue-tie will be assessed and treated consistently under new guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Around 5% to 10% of babies are born with a tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, in New Zealand each year. At least half can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison over
    The prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison is over, with all remaining prisoners now safely and securely detained, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says. The majority of those involved in the event are members of the Mongols and Comancheros. Five of the men are deportees from Australia, with three subject to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test for travellers from the UK and the US from 15 January
    Travellers from the United Kingdom or the United States bound for New Zealand will be required to get a negative test result for COVID-19 before departing, and work is underway to extend the requirement to other long haul flights to New Zealand, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. “The new PCR test requirement, foreshadowed last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago