7 Sep 2012

Economic benefits in extracting phosphate rock - report

1:57 pm on 7 September 2012

The company planning to extract rock phosphate for fertiliser from the sea bed east of New Zealand says an independent report backs up its case for economic benefits to the country.

Chatham Rock Phosphate Ltd will be applying for a mining licence in a few weeks to take phosphate from the Chatham Rise, 450km from New Zealand.

It is raising money for the project, and so far has attracted Netherlands-based Royal Boskalis Westminster to take a cornerstone stake, and wants to list in Canada to raise investor awareness.

Chatham Rock's managing director, Chris Castle, says it's more than half way toward its $25 million target and is talking to prospective investors in the United States.

To support its application it commissioned a report from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

Managing director Chris Castle says the research institute concludes the project will be worth $1.3 billion to the country.

That includes $300 million a year earned from fertiliser exports during the planned 16 years of production, and reducing New Zealand's dependence on imported rock phosphate from Morocco.

Mr Castle says the company has had significant interest from offshore companies.

He says the material coming off the seabed can be used partially for superphosphate, but its properties mean it cannot all be made into superphosphate so it will not entirely substitute the Moroccan material currently used.

Mr Castle says some of it will be sold to make dicalcic phosphate and some of it will be used for direct application or RPR.

He says Chatham Rock Phosphate Ltd will also seek a marine consent covering environmental conditions.