The Issues Proposals and applications by parties for permits to explore or prospect for iron ore off the West Coast of the North Island raised concerns for communities located in the area. ‘Kiwis Against Sand Mining’ (“KASM”) was formed in 2005 to provide a vehicle for addressing these concerns including that successful applications could eventually lead to mining in coastal marine area (“CMA”) when the environmental impacts resulting from mining are largely unknown. Why The “Coastal Marine Area” Of The West Coast? Expressed simply, the CMA includes the foreshore, seabed, coastal water, and the air above the water up to 12 miles out to sea. The CMA on the West Coast is an attractive location April/May 2006 Page 3 of 4 www.smlaw.co.nz © 2006 for prospective miners as iron sand onshore dune deposits and offshore marine deposits can be found along 480 kilometres of coast from Kaipara Harbour to Wanganui. Furthermore, iron sand beach and sand dune deposits on the West Coast are some of the largest deposits in the world. The Legal Framework Mining within the CMA in New Zealand is governed by the Crown Minerals Act 1991 (“CMA 1991”) and the Resource Management Act 1991 (“RMA 1991”). The Acts create a dual regime for management of mineral resources and management of environmental effects associated with their use. Crown Minerals Act 1991 The CMA 1991 provides for management of mineral resources and the allocation of rights to Crown owned minerals such as iron ore. The Ministry of Economic Development manages New Zealand’s Crown owned mineral estate and its management role is achieved through minerals programmes and minerals permits. A minerals permit must be obtained before lawful prospecting, exploration for, or mining of Crown owned minerals may begin. A broad range of matters must be taken into account when applications for permits are considered. However, the Act provides little scope for public involvement in the permitting process as there is no formal notification process enabling submissions to be made by the public. However, a holder of a permit under the CMA 1991 must also comply with the provisions of the RMA 1991 before mining related activities in the CMA can begin. The RMA 1991 contains a number of features and mechanisms designated to act as constraints on potentially harmful environmental effects associated with mining in the CMA. Resource Management Act 1991 The RMA 1991 treats the preservation and protection of the CMA as a matter of national importance and expressly restricts a number of activities from occurring without the authority of a Regional Coastal Plan or the relevant coastal permit. Coastal permits are required for all activities that are not permitted by the relevant Regional Coastal Plan. Given the scale and scope of a mining operation in the CMA, it is likely that an application for a coastal permit would be notified requiring notice of the application to be served on affected parties. On notification of an application, any person may make a submission in respect of the application thereby triggering the hearing provisions of the RMA 1991. Even though a party may obtain a permit to mine under the CMA 1991 and in view of the largely unknown environmental effects of mining in the CMA, groups like KASM hope that the RMA 1991 will provide sufficient opportunity for public involvement and ultimately protect the CMA from irrevocable damage.