Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Supreme Court bans undersea mining

The Supreme Court has rejected Trans-Tasman Resources' appeal to gain marine consents for undersea mining:

The Supreme Court has found the Environmental Protection Authority erred in law when it granted consents to seabed mining company Trans-Tasman Resources in 2017.

It said the matter should go back to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for fresh consideration - with one of the five justices saying the application could have been declined outright on the information provided.


The Supreme Court justices said if the seabed mining caused environmental damage, as it may from a sediment plume, decision-makers have to weigh up whether this could be avoided, reduced or remedied.

Economic considerations should be taken into account "only at the margins" or not at all.

The EPA committee failed to take the precautionary principle into account, the justices found.

This is great news, especially for the precedent it sets around the interpretation of the EEZ Act's purpose clause and the requirement to avoid pollution. As KASM points out, this is going to make seabed mining extremely difficult, and it is effectively an implicit ban. Which means we might as well go ahead and turn it into an explicit ban, just to give business the "certainty" it is always saying it wants.