A group of protesters opposed to the looming prospect of ironsand mining off Taranaki’s coast took to the streets of New Plymouth on Saturday morning.
About 20 people, including a number of youngsters, set up camp outside Centre City using sand to spell out their message of opposition. The protest comes after recent revelations that a number of mining companies, including global giants such as Rio Tinto and Fortescue, still have their eyes squarely on Taranaki’s mineral deposits, particularly iron ore in the region’s distinctive black sand.
Over the past 18 months, prospecting and exploration licences covering almost the entire Taranaki offshore coastline and several onshore sites have been issued to different mining companies by Crown Minerals.
One company told the Taranaki Daily News it hopes to begin mining operations within five years. But Waitara woman and protest organiser Jo Moore said she is totally opposed to the idea. “This is about a group of beach users and ocean users who don’t want Rio Tinto coming in and mining our sand,” she said. “This is our own little protest saying we don’t want you here and we don’t think it’s a good idea. “We’re trying to make the public aware of what’s happening.”
The protesters built sandcastles and handed out stickers and pamphlets provided by Raglan-based group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining. Ms Moore said she was doubtful of the economic benefits touted by supporters of seabed mining.
“It’s just exploitation of New Zealand and our natural resources. “Only a small amount of money would come back to us through taxes and the rest goes to profit for the companies.
“I believe it will have massive ecological effects on our coastline, our fishing resources, not to mention our surf breaks.”
District councillor Shaun Biesiek joined the protesters and said he was absolutely against seabed mining because he didn’t believe it was sustainable and was concerned about the potential ecological and marine impacts. “It’s not worth any amount of money,” he said. “It’s a natural resource we shouldn’t be playing with.”
– © Fairfax NZ News