Chatham Rock Phosphate to Gareth Hughes

September 24th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

An open letter from Chatham Rock Phosphate to :

You have publicly said you are not against per se and will evaluate each project on its merits. We wonder how much faith to put in that statement if the evaluation is based on so little consultation and so few facts.   If you have ruled out this project as well as countless others, are there any you do support?

Can anyone identify a mine that has not been opposed?

We’re astonished you have formed such a negative opinion about our project given the compelling potential environmental and economic benefits it offers and its minimal environmental impacts.

To remind you:

1. Chatham Rise rock phosphate, as an ultra-low cadmium direct-application fertiliser, has proven to be as effective as processed fertilisers while reducing run-off effects on New Zealand waterways by up to 80%. 

2. This resource provides fertiliser security for farming by providing a local alternative source.  Most rock phosphate used to make fertiliser now is imported from Morocco.

3. Moroccan rock phosphate is high in cadmium, involves high transport costs and has a significant carbon footprint.

4. New Zealand is predicted to be $900 million richer as a result of our new industry and we’ll be generating annual exports or import substitution of $300 million, plus supporting farming, our biggest earner.

5. By area, the economic value of the phosphate resource is 500 times greater than ; it is expected to yield $9.1 million per km2. In contrast, bottom trawling yields less than $20,000 per km2.

So while our operations will have some environmental impacts, they also offer very significant environmental and economic benefits.

The TV3 news item noted your alliance with the fishing industry is an unlikely one.  I agree, given bottom trawling’s massive environmental impacts and lack of environmental oversight.

So the Greens are so anti-mining, they prefer bottom trawling to it!

Our proposed mining operation is subject to a rigorous environmental evaluation and monitoring process. The story that should be getting your attention is not the potential environmental impact of our project, but the freedom of the fishing industry to devastate as much of our EEZ as they like (currently about 50,000 km2 per year, or 385,032 km2 or 9.3% of the EEZ since 1989) with no environmental oversight or monitoring.

We wouldn’t consider extracting phosphate nodules from a very limited area of the Chatham Rise if we expected it to cause more than very minor environmental impacts. Our operations will lift the top 30cm of sandy silt and redeposit 85% of it on the same area of seabed after extracting the nodules. Modelling indicates the material returned will not be widely dispersed, and the sediment that doesn’t immediately settle will rapidly dilute to insignificant levels.

Our draft environmental impact assessment (EIA), supported by more than 30 expert reports, has identified no long-term impacts on key spawning, juvenile and young fish habitat. Any potential impacts are predicted to be confined to our limited extraction areas, and are short-term, reversible, and of low environmental risk. 

But while bottom trawling – ploughing vast tracts of the EEZ seabed decade after decade – requires no environmental consents, our project needs a mining licence and a marine consent. These cost millions of dollars, require years of research, consultation and official process, and involve full public scrutiny.

Chatham’s planned 15-year extraction project will touch a total of 450 km2, far less than 1% of the Chatham Rise.  In contrast, over the same period fishing will bottom trawl 750,000 km2, about three times the size of New Zealand.

This reinforces my view that the Greens tend to be knee-jerk against any new project, rather than treat them on their merits.

UPDATE: Gareth Hughes has responded in the comments.

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43 Responses to “Chatham Rock Phosphate to Gareth Hughes”

  1. hj (7,023 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  2. Redbaiter (8,887 comments) says:

    Gareth Hughes is the worst kind of far left watermelon zealot. Indoctrinated at an early age, it is almost impossible now to break through the wall of ignorance superstition and shonky science that underpins his belief system.

    He has been touring the country side in a campaign of opposition to fraccing and been completely disingenuous in his application of arguments relating to Coal Seam Gas fraccing in Australia and applying them to Deep Petroleum Drilling in NZ. I attended one of these events and was appalled at the untruths fed to a gullible and un-technical audience.

    That this group of false prophets and sloganeering doomsayers gathers 10-12% of the NZ vote is an indictment of a lazy or politically corrupt media that does nothing of what it should to expose the counterfeit theories that these charlatans propagate.

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  3. Kea (12,841 comments) says:

    The Greens position has nothing at all to do with environmental concerns. Their end came is to dismantle modern capitalist industrial society. They dream of a new world populated with socialist organic farmers living in villages. An identical idea actually attempted by Pol Pot.

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  4. GarethMP (4 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  5. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    Environmentalists seem to think the rules do not apply to them. Oppose through the Courts and lose and off they protest. We have a system that we expect industry to go through – rigorous and expensive – but for the environmentalists that system only seems to apply to industry never to them.

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  6. MT_Tinman (3,186 comments) says:

    The Reds (there’s nothing green about them except envy) want to destroy the NZ (in this case) economy forcing a return to cave dwelling and subsistence farming.

    Unfortunately they don’t have the honesty to own up to that policy.

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  7. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    @GarethMP: I think the point they are making isn’t that it’s in the same area, it’s that we’re bottom trawling enormous swaths of seabed, and this is a pretty small amount of seabed.

    I think the point you’re making is that this small amount of seabed happens to be in an area protected from trawling. And if we allow trawling in 90% of the ocean, then allow mineral extraction in the other 10%, then there is 0% of the ocean that’s protected.

    And I think the counterpoint to that is that, as always, the fact that a line was drawn on a map saying “that’s protected” doesn’t actually mean that everything within that area is of high conservation worth. And if a piece of that isn’t of high conservation worth, has high mineral extraction worth, that extraction has low impact, and there is some sort of offsetting environmental deal, then that’s a good outcome for the economy and for the environment.

    PS: Nice to see you commenting here Gareth – I’m sure you’ll get some vitriol, but like anything on the internet there are always crazies.

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  8. mandk (993 comments) says:

    @ GarethMP,
    So come clean then.
    Are you in favour of any new economic activity and, if so, what?
    And can you tell us why we shouldn’t believe Kea when (s)he says that the Greens’ end came is to dismantle modern capitalist industrial society?
    The floor is yours.

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  9. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    On the news item CRP are referring to I pointed out the inconsistency that fishers can’t trawl or dredge in these areas but this company can literally vacuum up the sea floor. It makes a mockery of the Benthic Protected Areas that were established to be off limits to bottom trawlers to have them mined.

    Why does it make a mockery of the the Benthic Protected Areas? They idea was to protect the sea mounts as key breeding grounds. The letter addressed to you clearly outlines the differences between open slather bottom trawling and the comparatively confined mining efforts. It also outlines the impact on spawning in the affected areas. The mockery you state is in no way clear.

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  10. Kleva Kiwi (289 comments) says:

    The problem here is trying to argue with facts and science to an over emotive irrational group of people who cannot see the forest for the trees…

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  11. Redbaiter (8,887 comments) says:

    Stop the off the point waffle and answer the question Mr. Hughes.

    Is there any mining project you have not opposed?

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  12. wat dabney (3,761 comments) says:

    How could you or CRP possibly conclude we would prefer bottom trawling these marine protected areas?

    Perhaps by looking at your policies rather than your lies and propaganda?

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  13. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    He looks good in a Ronald McDonald suit though.

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  14. hj (7,023 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  15. GarethMP (4 comments) says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  16. KevOB (267 comments) says:

    I watched a UK Parliament debate recently and did not see a single fresh-faced kid among the members. We could do with that here. Socialist activists may have ideology but not competency in political economy.

    Is Gareth, ExGreenPeaceBoaty, aware of the potential shortage of phosphorus which is being increased by the demand for biofuels. Crops still require NPK. See http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=phosphorus-a-looming-crisis and http://wp.me/p2EPg0-Wz and the enforced food shortages from green activism: http://wp.me/p2EPg0-Ng

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  17. Colville (2,268 comments) says:

    Gareth @ 3.52.
    Nice non answer.
    Scum.

    (I have been told I use the word cu*t too often) :-)

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  18. Redbaiter (8,887 comments) says:

    He won’t answer it.

    Drips with deceit.

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  19. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    Hey Gareth,

    Thanks for turning up and having your say.

    Quick question – what mining project have you supported recently?

    Cheers

    Dime

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  20. Urban Redneck (234 comments) says:

    He won’t answer it.”

    Of course he won’t. Because his shtick is to campaign on behalf of any effort that dovetails into an attack on capitalism. The Greens are the extreme left masquerading behind a mask of environmental righteousness. It is simply astonishing how so many people (DPF included) can not bring themselves to understand this.

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  21. Ed Snack (1,872 comments) says:

    GarethMP, having at least perused the PWC report on clean energy, it looks like the correct lesson to take from it is that it would represent a $23B + Drain on our resources and would generate negative growth, and that figure is a best case. Reality is likely to be worse.

    Sure you can “support” ICT, but will anyone actually buy it. It’s a typical thought free answer, the current trend is to outsource to lower cost locations, and your “clean energy” focus will make us high cost; unless of course you subsidize it like politicians are wont to do, in which case it will be an even bigger drain only you will be able to pretend that it isn’t. Classic moral posturing with no real world experience. And that’s the “greens” summarized neatly, seeming over doing, and living the life paid for by others.

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  22. rangitoto (247 comments) says:

    “yes I was to see economic development and new jobs that’s why in my portfolios I’ve put up a number of proposals to support our ICT industry and grow well paid, smart jobs;”

    ICT industry and smart jobs wouldn’t exist without mining.

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  23. stigie (1,184 comments) says:

    Hey Clint, is that right what i just said ?

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  24. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    GarethMP>attention on clean energy which Pricewaterhouse Coopers say could be a $23 B opportunity for us

    Clean energy has left Denmark with the highest electricity prices in Europe and resulting energy poverty.

    Clean energy has been a drain on the German economy, like an energy version of Greece. Except at least Greece didn’t build ugly windmills all over the German landscape.

    Clean energy has almost bankrupted Spain, with high electricity prices destroying two existing jobs for every single Green job created and a resulting unemployment rate over 25%.

    But in NZ clean energy will increase the size of our economy by about 20%? It’s either magic, or the maddest report ever written in human history.

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  25. kowtow (8,485 comments) says:

    Davidp

    It’s black magic.

    Because the lights will all go out.

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  26. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    Lucky hj kicked off the thread or GarethMP would have looked like more of a nutter.

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  27. Sector 7g (242 comments) says:

    Hey Clint.

    Obviously green jobs won’t hurt the economy, otherwise undeveloped nations would be exempt in regards to climate change “solutions” right?

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  28. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Oppose everything.

    Do nothing.

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  29. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    And the Pacific Ocean seabed constitutes about half of the surface of the earth. But somehow, suctioning up this little bit of it, extracting some minerals and dripping the rubble back down there would be an environmental catastrophe?! Sorry but I’m with the right on this one. Do it.

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  30. Goon (13 comments) says:

    Bottom trawling. Isn’t that what the gaggle does on Saturday nights down Courtney Place?

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  31. Colville (2,268 comments) says:

    and still no answer to the question…

    Is there any mining project you have not opposed?

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  32. Colville (2,268 comments) says:

    Bottom trawling. Isn’t that what the gaggle does on Saturday nights down Courtney Place?

    I thought Darren did that at parlimentary functions?

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  33. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Good on you Gareth Hughes for having the guts to comment in a Kiwiblog thread. I disagree with the Greens on mining (and on very much else), but the Greens may not have much to worry about from Chathams Rise phosphate mining.

    This can only succeed if the extractors get access to the NZ market, which is controlled by companies that typically have farmer shareholder structure. To build parallel infrastructure including port storage, processing facilities, and distribution, make the Chathams Rise idea fairly marginal. Even if the extractors get it ashore after hoovering it from the ocean floor, they will need to store it.

    They apparently think it could be effective spreading it unprocessed on farmland, but you have to convince farmers both that this will work as well as superphosphate, and that will this be as economic as present superphosphate.

    Then for export, the Chathams phosphate will still need construction of storage facilities ashore, cheapish shipping, and markets against low-cost sources such as North Africa.

    In some ways the sea-floor phosphate shares the problems of the sea-floor gas undoubtedly waiting to be tapped off NZ. Lack of local markets and infrastructure (pipelines to homes etc, in the case of gas), and distance and facilities for export (LNG-conversion plants and shipping for gas).

    I disagree with Greens in that I think there is potential for mining in NZ, but am skeptical of some of the outrageous claims made for NZ’s mineral potential. It’s not long since some fairly well known politicians were claiming NZ had more potential mineral wealth per capita than Saudi Arabia, for example.

    This was based on seafloor methane hydrate, a potential source of gas. We have this on the ocean floor in our economic zone. However, first, no-one knows how to extract the gas economically from this “fire ice”. Secondly, if they ever find a way of doing this, there are huge deposits close at hand to potential big consumers – China, Japan, the United States and Europe. NZ’s would not be able to compete because of transport costs.

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  34. Peter (1,712 comments) says:

    Mr Hughes, just for once, please answer the question without referring to the Green playbook of empty cliches.

    We’re not the MSM.

    We’d like to hear coherent explanations and evidence based, reasoned positions.

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  35. heathcote (104 comments) says:

    Hey Clint

    It’s not ‘wrecking their havoc’ it’s ‘wreaking their havoc’. Duh. Thicko.

    Your ignorance is manifested by your unintelligent argument.

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  36. Fisiani (1,039 comments) says:

    C’mon Gareth Search your brain. tell us of ANY mining proposal you have supported.

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  37. wat dabney (3,761 comments) says:

    Good on you Gareth Hughes for having the guts to comment in a Kiwiblog thread.

    What?

    He made a thoroughly deceitful comment and then ran away.

    Lies and cowardice in the service of authoritarianism.

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  38. Bob (497 comments) says:

    I shudder to think of the Greens being part of government. If they do govern with Labour will Labour put up with them or give into their demands to stay in power?

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  39. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    The irony of Hughes commenting here is that he is almost certainly using either his own computer or smart phone, or one provided for his personal use by parliament. These things are full of minerals dug out of the ground and subject to an energy intensive manufacturing process. Owning your own computer is like owning a car. It would be much more sustainable if he shared a computer, by using one in an internet cafe. That’s like public transport. Or, if you’re in favour of councils providing subsidised public transport then he should really use a computer located at a public library. Maybe Gareth could clarify this IT use in relation to this issue?

    I’d also like to know if he ever feels any shame listening to his leader banging on about Chinese people, or if he’s happy just to ignore Norman’s racism?

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  40. Kea (12,841 comments) says:

    Bob, I can answer that. Labour have the advantage of being uninhibited by principles or even reality. They will do anything to stay in power. Giving into the regressive demands of a bunch of later day Luddites would be a pleasure for them. Count on it.

    The only problem with this union is the terrible infighting and disunity of such dysfunctional people. It is easy to see why as both parties regards their fellow humans as intrinsically evil. It lays at the core of their political ideology.

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  41. maxwell (55 comments) says:

    Gareth, actions speak louder than words.

    So next time you’re in Tauranga, you could restore some credibility by apologizing to the
    motel owners and tourism operators there who lost bookings after you said that the
    Rena “disaster” would kill 20,000 birds and leave the beaches unusable for 20 years.

    This turned out to be complete scaremongering bullshit and as usual you have not been held to it by the MSM.

    So, with Clint’s approval, maybe you could man up and admit you got it wrong.

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  42. lolitasbrother (695 comments) says:

    I thought the letter sent to Gareth Hughes from Chatham Phosphates invites him into a discussion.
    He clearly will not do that , and diverts to bottom trawling.
    So does Mr Farrar by the way, and I don’t agree with this vile program Farrar has of rating comments.
    Its a redneck flag, , and loses interesting opinion.
    We have a lot to do but censoship in any form is not part of the program.
    So far Farrar has resisited locking out IP addresses like Trottersky, and Pablo, and the left trash,
    but who knows maybe soon.

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  43. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    maxwell>So next time you’re in Tauranga, you could restore some credibility by apologizing to the motel owners and tourism operators there who lost bookings after you said that the Rena “disaster” would kill 20,000 birds and leave the beaches unusable for 20 years.

    There is something quite sad about the situation you describe.

    On one hand you have a man with no real work experience and no skills apart from the ability to weasel his way up in the Green Party. That’s enough to earn him a high income, secure employment on the Green list, and plenty of scope to travel around the country and internationally on occasion.

    On the other hand you have every-day NZers who just want to work hard and earn a modest living. Motel owners and staff in Tauranga. People who want to earn a living mining phosphate. Construction workers. Coal miners on the West Coast. Etc.

    Most people’s instincts would be to help the average working people. To make their lives easier a bit. Yet Hughes seems to get a kick out of roaming the country threatening their livelihood. He doesn’t mind ruining jobs and lives if it gives him a chance to posture and to cement his place in the Green elite. It’s kind of sad where the average people essentially plead with him not to shit all over their lives, because I just don’t think he cares and it isn’t going to save them. I hope that if the Greens come after my job, that I’ll have the dignity to fight back rather than to plead with them in the hopes they leave me alone.

    People aren’t just part of a Green Party game.

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