Chatham Rock loses court case over costs

The company that sought to mine phosphate from the ocean floor has lost a court case over costs it said were exhorbitant.

Chatham Rock Phosphate wanted to extract fertiliser from the seabed off the east coast of the South Island.

In early 2015, it lost an application to the Environmental Protection Authority, (EPA) after a 26 day hearing.

The company was subsequently sent a bill for $2,694,599 under the authority’s cost recovery model.

It alleged $853,246 was unlawfully billed.

The money paid for things like airfares, taxi fares, rental cars, and venue hire.

Chatham Rock refused to pay, leading the EPA to go to court seeking enforcement.

That case was adjourned pending this judicial review.

But this review has gone against the company, with Justice Clark finding the EPA did not simply and unthinkly pass on costs, and Chatham Rock failed to prove that the costs it did pass on were unlawful.

However Chatham Rock said it might appeal that decision, leaving the original enforcement case in limbo.

Meanwhile the company wants to re-submit a mining application to the EPA and it is part way though raising the $6 million cost.

A recent rights issues raised $550,000.

Chatham Rock said it wanted to re-file its application since its original was turned down because of a few failings that it would seek to plug.

The scheme would produce phosphate for New Zealand farms that was currently imported.

Some of this had come from Western Sahara which is occupied by Morocco.

Political strife over this led to a New Zealand-bound phosphate shipment being detained by legal action in South Africa.