26 Jul 2018

New group wants mining on French Polynesia's Makatea

10:37 am on 26 July 2018

A new group has been formed in French Polynesia which has spoken out in favour of resuming phosphate mining on Makatea atoll.

Makatea in French Polynesia

Makatea in French Polynesia Photo: Amelie David

An Australian company Avenir Makatea is awaiting government approval to restart mining, but the project is being resisted by environmental organisations, including landowners now living elsewhere.

The new group, led by the mayor's son, Tahirivairau Mai, has told a news conference that both environmental conservation and phosphate mining can be pursued at the same time.

The group, which is called Makatea Association Acting for Biodiversity, says it wants to develop the atoll and that it differed from other organisations as it represented people still living on Makatea.

Avenir Makatea is seeking a government license to mine 600 hectares in the hope of extracting about 35,000 tonnes of phosphate a year.

A year ago, a government delegation visited the atoll and said it was planning a survey to find out what people thought about the project.

It is not known when a decision will be made on whether to grant a mining licence.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs