Trans-Tasman Resources Limited (TTR) holds a mining permit to undertake iron ore extraction in the South Taranaki Bight. In October 2013 TTR applied for marine consent under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 to undertake iron ore extraction in a 66 km2 area in the South Taranaki Bight. In June 2014 the Decision-Making Committee refused the marine consent application. The decision has been appealed to the High Court. One of the EPA's primary concerns with the last application was the effect sediment plume - caused by uplifting the sand - would have on the seabed environment. The EPA decision stated that "based on the evidence presented, the sediment plume created by mining would cause shading in the water column affecting primary productivity of phytoplankton and reduce light availability at the seabed affecting benthic primary productivity. "Overall, we think this application was premature. More time to have better understood the proposed operation and the receiving environment and engage more constructively with existing interests and other parties may have overcome many of the concerns we have set out in this decision."
The project would have involved the excavation of up to 50 million tonnes (27 million cubic metres) per year of seabed material containing iron sand for processing on an offshore floating vessel. Approximately 10 per cent of the material would have been processed offshore into iron ore for export, with the remaining material returned to the seabed.  In the impact report submitted later in August 2016, it says that “There would be a direct bump of $59 million to the country's gross domestic product (GDP), or $159m if indirect and induced effects were taken into account…There will also be royalties of about $6.15m a year, $310m in export earnings and government taxes.”
When the previous marine consent application was declined by the EPA, the DMC identified that one of the key reasons for the application being declined was that it had a lack of confidence in the extent to which existing interests were appropriately taken into account as part of the application. Acknowledging the DMC’s criticism, TTR re-evaluated their consultation strategy and after extensive review developed a consultation plan that provided for open and inclusive consultation with the existing interest parties, tangata whenua and stakeholders that addressed the identified shortcomings and would improve the overall effectiveness of the consultation process. In March 2015, TTR facilitated a visit for interested stakeholders to De Beers Marine (Pty) Ltd (“DBM”) in Cape Town, South Africa to provide parties with the opportunity to “see and feel” the proposed equipment, witness the tried and tested technology supporting the TTR proposal and meet the scientists and regulatory authorities involved in monitoring DBM’s established offshore diamond mining activities. Invitations for this visit were extended to iwi (especially mana whenua), EPA, TRC, DOC, MNZ, and commercial fishing representatives. The invite was accepted by the EPA, TRC, and representatives of the Iwi Fisheries Forum.
On 25 August 2016, TTR lodged a revised Marine Consent application with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for the proposed South Taranaki Bight (STB) iron sands mining project. TTR said that it would be “sustainable world-leading, marine-based development that can be delivered and operated with minimal environmental impact ".
But the venture has been opposed by KASM, Patea-based iwi Ngati Ruanui, environmental groups Greenpeace and Forest & Bird, and by Talley's Fisheries which also submitted against the mining when a previous application by TTR was declined by the EPA in 2014. Among the concerns is the possible impact on blue whales and Maui's dolphins. In the year 2016, a 6000-signature petition was presented to Parliament by KASM and Ngati Ruanui calling for a moratorium on seabed mining. Much of their concern focused on the sediment plume that would be generated by the mine, as the plume would spread from the mined zone into the coastal marine area – killing low-living organisms and possibly causing fish to avoid the area.
In August 2017, the application to the EPA to mine South Taranaki's iron sands in the North Island of New Zealand was granted on a split decision (that has been appealed) despite acknowledgment there could be "100 percent loss" of marine life on the seafloor. Protesters geared up immediately to fight this landmark decision of August 2017. Indigenous leaders said that the decision felt like a repeat of history, with the iwi's land being confiscated by soldiers in 1869, and now the seabed was also being taken away. "The land confiscation was raping the land, now they are raping the sea that we are here to protect, along with all the other people, for our children, there's going to be nothing left there. “These guys are only there for the money, they're not there to protect the habitat, and they’re not there to protect the seabed. What we are seeing, what I am saying now, is there's going to be no life in that seabed for our children for tomorrow.".
The North Island’s west coast in New Zealand is a unique marine ecosystem, with a shoreline of distinctive purple and black sand. The black matter is Titanomagnetite. It features a (so far unrecoverable) titanium component, along with an iron component. As well as being present on the shoreline, sand dunes, and coastal hinterland, there is an even greater amount in the seabed. It was formed by the nearby volcanic cones of Taranaki, Pirongia, and Karioi, which over the millennia, eroded vast quantities of black, iron-rich sand, down the streams and rivers on their flanks. Ocean currents then moved the sand north and southwards away from its source. The result is a series of deposits along 480 km of coastline from Whanganui to the Kaipara Harbour and in nearly 20,000 km2 of the adjacent seabed. Many such deposits around the globe have been studied as potential sources of iron ore, but few are of commercial value. The favourable decision for the project in August 2017 is now under appeal.