A mining firm has experienced a surge in its share value following assertions about expediting consent processes, becoming the second company within a week to draw criticism from the infrastructure minister for alleged “misleading” claims.

Chatham Rock Phosphate issued a notice on the share market website, stating that it had been “requested” by the government to apply for fast-track approvals. This announcement coincided with a notable increase in its share price, climbing from $0.118 at 1 pm on Wednesday to $0.151 at 3 pm on Thursday.

The Fast-Track Approvals Bill, currently under select committee review and open for public consultation until April 19, proposes significant reductions in public scrutiny over consent decisions for various projects. Environmental advocates fear that this legislation could greenlight potentially harmful projects that were previously denied consent, potentially even after legal battles.

According to Chatham Rock Phosphate’s NZX statement, the company had been asked by the New Zealand government to submit an application for its Chatham Rise rock phosphate project to be considered under the Fast Track Consenting Bill. If accepted, the company anticipates that the permitting process would expedite, potentially leading to reduced costs and a more predictable outcome.

The firm assured that preparations for the application were underway and would be submitted well before the May 3, 2024 deadline.

Earlier in the week, Infrastructure Minister Chris Bishop criticized Australian seabed mining company Trans Tasman Resources for what he deemed “misleading” claims about being invited to apply for fast-track approvals. He clarified that the “formal invite” was a generic letter sent to 200 organizations, outlining the application process.

In response to inquiries regarding Chatham Rock Phosphate’s similar claim, Bishop reiterated that it was a misunderstanding.

Chatham Rock Phosphate defended its statement, stating that it was in compliance with disclosure obligations as a publicly listed company with shareholders in multiple countries.

Trading of Chatham Rock Phosphate shares was halted around 3:31 pm on Thursday to provide clarification and context regarding the nature of the application process mentioned in the announcement.

RNZ has sought access to the letter and a list of its recipients for further clarification.

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