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Is this environmental looting?



Save Our Sands (SOS)


27 Feb, 2023


thumbnail Sand mining GPS-267Pictured is a GPS satellite graphic showing the movements of the sand mining super dredge ‘William Fraser’ that Auckland sand supplier McCallum Bros Ltd use to remove sand from our precious beaches. The orange tracking is where they are mining, a few hundred metres off our beaches north of Te Arai point, and parallel to the Tara Iti and links golf courses and housing developments.

Is it legal? Probably! Is it right? Definitely not! How could it be legal? McCallum’s have continued mining the near shore of our coast [5-10m depths] using a resource consent that expired in September 2020, plus the refusal by council and commissioners hearing in 2022 for this resource consent to be extended. They have been exploiting a legal loophole that allows them to keep mining while they keep pursuing a renewal of their consent.

The destruction to our Mangawhai-Pakiri coastline by mining practices has been devastating and will only worsen if these mining practices are allowed to continue, which the Environment Court will address later this year. In the meantime, McCallum Bros will continue to take as much sand from our beaches as they can.

Auckland Council have been asleep at the wheel in policing sand volumes extracted, and not acting on the raft of evidence showing the McCallum dredge trespassing outside of its consented territory – too close to the shore and into Northland waters.

The GPS graphic is just one day – February 17 – of six consecutive days when they were dredging. The state of emergency caused by Cyclone Gabrielle was still in force, yet McCallum conducted two mining practices that are shunned by miners worldwide – they mined and over-mined the near beach shore. No other country allows this.

They regularly conduct this sand-taking practice after storms, as they have done now following Gabrielle. The reason for this is they can suck up the free-flowing sand that storm wave activity has collected from the beach, before it has settled, and before it has had a chance to be returned to the beach as nature has done forever.

With no sand to go back to refurbish the beaches, and holes created by mining that can only be refilled with beach erosion back into the sea, it is no wonder we are now dealing with a man-made coastal disaster way beyond what global warming on its own would cause.

McCallum’s are fully aware of the fragile state of our coast and their impact of mining so close to shore, yet, while the people of Mangawhai were fighting floods and land slips on shore, in the dark of night McCallum’s were relentlessly taking sand and undermining our costal eco system. This demonstrates that McCallum work on the assumption that ‘nature exists to be exploited, it has no intrinsic value, and there will always be more. How wrong they are. Commercial gain in exchange for environmental pain.

The three new mining consents, if granted, would focus mining away from Pakiri, commencing from Te Arai point for 10km northward, right on the shores of Mangawhai. The volume of sand they seek to take is greater than what makes up our sand spit and iconic dunes. Without our sand spit providing a safe harbour, if it were to erode into the ocean as it compensates for the mining sands taken, Mangawhai will be openly exposed to the storms we have experienced through this summer, with no protection.

There is much the people of our community can do to support our local groups who have been fighting these mining activities for years. The Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society, the Fairy Tern Association, Friends Of Pakiri, and the Save Our Sands (SOS) group are committed to opposing the mining at every level.

The hearts of our community are strong, our cause is irrefutably a just one, however the forces of big money and commercial pressure are massed against us .

As we get closer to the Environment Court hearings, our organisations will be reaching out to the community, advising ways we can all be involved in saving Mangawhai. Please join us.

This GPS graphic shows the McCallum dredge mining the near beach shore. No other country allows this. IMAGE/SUPPLIED

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