Chatham Rock granted permit to extract phosphate nodules

06 December 2013 15:44  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Chatham Rock Phosphate Ltd (CRP) has received a 20-year permit to extract phosphate nodules from an 820sq km area of the mineral-rich zone of Chatham Rise, near New Zealand's South Island, the company said on Friday.

The project is expected to cut New Zealand’s dependency on Moroccan imports of phosphate rock and create an export market.

It has the potential to add $900m (€657m) to the country's economy and generate $250m/year in exports and import substitution.

New Zealand currently imports around $91m of rock phosphate a year from Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) in Morocco.

CRP still requires a marine consent from the Environmental Protection Authority under new law governing New Zealand’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone, which the company plans to apply for early next year.

“We feel confident we can satisfy those concerns and demonstrate the environmental impacts of our operations will be minor and localised,” Chatham Rock managing director Chris Castle said.

“We’ve also thought carefully about mitigation and monitoring and are continuing to talk to anyone with an interest in the project.”

Discovered in the 1950s, recent geological surveys indicate Chatham Rise holds around 100m tonnes of rock phosphate about 350-450m below the surface. CRP expects to extract up to 1.5m tonnes/year from the site.

($1 = €0.73)

By: Sylvia Traganida

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