French Polynesia's Fritch Visits Makatea, Site Of Proposed Mine

Environmentalists are strongly opposed to the project, pointing out the atoll's rich biodiversity could be put at risk

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 22, 2017) – The French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch has today been visiting Makatea atoll as an Australian company seeks to get a permit to resume phosphate mining on the atoll.

The company Avenir Makatea applied for a licence to mine 6.5 billion tonnes of phosphate over 27 years in a project supported by the mayor but resisted by the atoll's inhabitants.

The public broadcaster says the company promised landwoners $US600 per hectare a year as well as a commission on the phosphate.

The head of Avenir Makatea Colin Randall is reportedly in touch with Japanese investors interested in the phosphate.

Environmentalists are strongly opposed to the project, pointing out the atoll's rich biodiversity could be put at risk.

They say the president's trip was not announced and they were not allowed to join the sailing on the government ship which was booked for the voyage to Makatea.

Earlier, they were told that the scheduled service to Makatea was cancelled on short notice.

It is not known when the government will make a decision about the mining application.

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

Radio New Zealand International
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