Trans-Tasman Resources has a final legal hurdle to clear before developing this country’s first offshore seabed mining project – and that is gaining court clearance. By NEIL RITCHIE.
THE WELLINGTON HIGH COURT is due to hear various appeals this month (April 16-19) against the Environmental Protection Agency granting Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) the necessary consents to allow the company to recover and export ironsands off Taranaki.
TTR chairman Alan Eggers remains confident the appeals – by perennial protestors such as Greenpeace and Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), and other groups, including some Taranaki Maori and the Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board – will be unsuccessful.
“Our legal advice remains strong that the appeals do not raise or specify significant errors of law such that the consents are at risk of being declared invalid,” he says, referring to the marine and discharge consents granted by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) last August.
“There is no right to appeal on the merits of the two granted consents … the courts will only grant leave where the appeals involve significant legal matters and we are of the view that none of these circumstances are relevant to the EPA’s grant of the consents.”
However, the High Court’s decision, anticipated next June or July, may be further appealed to the Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court, but only with the leave of those higher courts.
This ‘leave’ will only be granted where the appeal involves a matter of general public importance, commercial significance, and significant issues relating to the Treaty of Waitangi (where it is mentioned in environmental law), or where a substantial miscarriage of justice may have occurred.
But in the unlikely event the appeals are successful then TTR can re-apply for the marine and discharge consents under the recently modified Exclusive Economic Zone Act 2012 that limits the appeals process to the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court.
Eggers adds that TTR’s minerals mining licence, MMP 55581, issued under the Crown Minerals Act 1991, will not be affected by any appeals.
Meanwhile, TTR continues to engage with stakeholders, interest groups, business and community leaders and political representatives in the Taranaki region and elsewhere. TTR has been explaining projected timetables, the expected economic, employment and community benefits, as well as outlining environmental monitoring, finance, and the building and commissioning of the project. In addition, TTR has explained the start of expected iron ore export shipments, predominantly to Asian nations, particularly China, from 2021.
“As a result of this ongoing engagement we are pleased to welcome our first TTR investors from the Taranaki region that have participated in the interim funding currently underway,” says Eggers.
“Their investment is important as it shows TTR has significant support in the Taranaki business community and, by investing, they are confident of the project’s economics, sustainability and minimal environmental footprint, along with the positive contribution it will make to the local and regional economies.”
The Kiwi ironsands miner has recently confirmed that it is going public via a backdoor listing on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) using Manhattan Corporation.
Manhattan Corporation, a Perth-based uranium explorer is acquiring all the issued capital of the presently unlisted TTR through the issuing of 706 million ordinary shares and 706 million performance shares, reflecting a transaction value of about A$36.4 million.
The capital raising is expected to close during April when the shareholders of both companies are also expected to vote on the deal. Once the transaction is completed the listed entity will rename itself TTR Corporation, with a A$4 million minimum capital raising, essentially to fund future exploration, mine development and the working capital requirements of current projects.
The ASX has already approved the reverse takeover (RTO) proposal in principle, the merger agreement and Manhattan has released the proposal to ASX and TTR shareholders. The planned listing of TTR Corporation on the ASX, and the quotation on the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX), is anticipated this May, with the merger taking about four months to complete.
Eggers says TTR has been very busy actively progressing listing the company’s securities on the ASX and NZX “and then utilising these platforms, along with Australian, NZ, Hong Kong and UK broker support, to raise the funds required to progress the company’s business plans and projects.
“It has been a productive quarter for TTR by maintaining our positive momentum on preparation of the appeals information … and advising legal counsel, undertaking and gaining in principle ASX approval for the RTO listing on ASX … and executing a merger agreement with Manhattan to complete the process.
“Securing the required funds remains a challenge in the short term to maintain our activities. We are however in discussions with a number of potential investors in order to secure the interim funding required and are confident that these funds can be raised.”
This article was first published in the April-May issue of Q&M.