7 Jan 2013

Chatham Islands wants in on any mining benefits

8:50 am on 7 January 2013

The mayor of the Chatham Islands says it is important that the islands benefit from what could be another lucrative resource in its waters.

The Chatham Rise between the South Island of New Zealand and the Chatham Islands has been identified as a possible site for sea-floor mining of phosphate deposits.

Listed company Chatham Rock Phosphate has applied to the New Zealand Government for a mining licence.

Chathams mayor Alfred Preece says the mining application could be worth more than $1 billion, but says residents are worried that the profits could go to the mainland.

"One of the things we're keen to do is avoid what's happened in the past. The Chathams has had a number of gold rushes, mainly in the fishing industry ... and the island itself has not fared well. So we're very keen to be at the front end of this."

Chatham Rise Phosphate chief executive Chris Castle says farmers would be able to access cheaper fertiliser for their land, which would increase productivity.

Mr Castle says the company will need to have vessels based there to do environmental monitoring, a helicopter base is required for medical reasons and there will be the potential for residents to work on its dredge or the export ship.

The company is also co-funding a feasibility study into building a new port at Ocean Bay, he says.