The French Government says an exploration and educational mission is being sent to Wallis and Futuna to assess undersea mineral wealth.
The Overseas Minister, George Pau-Langevin, says customs authorities in the territories realised the need for economic development to retain young people in the islands.
The minister was speaking after meeting with a delegation from Wallis and Futuna in Paris this week.
The mineral exploration follows a proposal by the French Prime Minister Francois Hollande in February which has raised environmental concerns among traditional leaders.
Ms Pau-Langevin says it has been agreed to send a mission that is both exploratory and to hear people's concerns and an educational mission to explain what will happen.