7 Feb 2012

French Polynesia to launch quest for seabed mineral rights

6:38 pm on 7 February 2012

French Polynesia's pro-independence member of the French Senate wants Paris to change the 2004 organic law to give French Polynesia access to seabed minerals in its economic zone.

Richard Tuheiava says France has been exploring for rare earths in French Polynesian waters, believed to have large deposits of these highly sought-after metals.

Mr Tuheiava says he wants to prevent a repeat of French moves of 40 years ago when the public was also kept in the dark and two atolls were excised to be turned into nuclear weapon test sites.

"The bill that I'm about to submit to the Senate is to ask for the restitution of this competency for French Polynesia to be able to explore and to mine and also to trade all these strategic metals and minerals under our sea."

Richard Tuheiava says a debate about the value of these resources will shed light on why France is against the territory's decolonisation.