“Astonishing and irresponsible” is how experts and environmentalists have greeted the news that the Government of New Zealand has granted a subsidy of up to $20 million to a company proposing to operate a deep sea mine, while a legal Hearing on its application to do so is still deliberating.
The subsidy has been granted to the would-be deep-sea mining company Chatham Rock Phosphate days before a hearings Committee publishes the findings of its fiercely contested Hearing into the request to mine 5000 square km of biodiversity-rich seabed off the coast of New Zealand.
Duncan Currie, the lawyer representing the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), Kiwis Against Seabed Mining and Greenpeace in the two month Hearing said: “It is surprising that this company is being given public money to conduct mining when the right to do so has not yet been granted. The Hearing has heard very compelling evidence about the grave risks posed to the deep ocean life from mining and it is far from a foregone conclusion that the permit will be granted. We hope that the Government is not seeking to influence the findings of the Committee with this action”.
Matthew Gianni of the DSCC added: “This massive subsidy speaks volumes about the economic viability of the proposal; surely if the Government is going to permit the destruction of our ocean it should at least make the company pay the full cost for doing so and not charge the taxpayers.”
The decision of the Committee into the company’s application is expected in the next 10-11 days.
The subsidy, known as the Callaghan Grant, will allow recipients to claim back 20 per cent of eligible research and development spending up to a total $5m a year for up to four years.
CEO of the company Chris Castle is quoted as saying “”In effect it is government funding, which we’re quite excited about”.
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