Enabling management of offshore mining

Interest in offshore petroleum and minerals exploration is growing rapidly as investors identify the potential economic returns from New Zealand’s rich marine resources. The challenge for management agencies and scientists is to facilitate development of this natural wealth while ensuring environmental sustainability is not compromised.

The strong interest for offshore hydrocarbon and seabed mineral resources in New Zealand and international waters, has resulted in the need for all operators to develop an Environmental Impact Aassessment (EIA) in the progression from prospecting/exploration to actual mining stages. Although EIAs are common in many industries, they are very wide-ranging and variable in their formats and content.

As part of a MBIE-funded research project investigating environmental aspects of mining impacts and management, we have developed a standard EIA template. The template is based on an extensive literature review, and examination of EIA documents developed for both oil and gas, and seabed mineral resources. There has also been consultation with government agencies and industry as it was formulated. A first version of the template and guidelines was published as a NIWA report, which is available below. We have received recent feedback and comments from members of a Project Advisory Group, and are currently revising the report to incorporate many of these comments.

Download NIWA report: Preparation of Environmental Impact Assessments: General guidelines for offshore mining and drilling with particular reference to New Zealand [3 MB]

External People Involved

Dr Joanne Ellis, Cawthorn Institute

The New Zealand region, and distribution of hydrocarbon and mineral resources in the EEZ and ECS.