French Polynesia moots redeveloping Makatea

3:07 pm on 27 March 2019

The French Polynesian government says Makatea Atoll could be rehabilitated, repopulated and an airport could be built there.

Plans are afoot to resume phosphate mining on Makatea atoll

Makatea Atoll Photo: supplied French Polynesian presidency

Discussing long-term plans for the Tuamotu archipelago, a senior minister Jean-Christophe Bouissou told the region's politicians that Makatea's land cannot be used as it is is.

The atoll was mined for phosphate for more than half a century until operations ceased in the 1960s.

The minister told local media the plan would allow for the mined zones to be revisited before the land was made inhabitable for the region's people who might be suffer from the effects of climate change.

The government is, however, yet to decide if it will approve pending applications, including one by the Australian company Avenir Makatea which wants to mine 6.5 billion tonnes of phosphate over 27 years.

Two associations, Fatu Fenua no Makatea and Rupe no Makatea, have been formed to campaign for the protection of Makatea's biodiversity.

An online petition opposed to mining was signed by more than 150,000 people.

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