Fears mining will return to French Polynesian atoll

4:49 pm on 20 July 2017

Environmentalists in French Polynesia are alarmed that today's scheduled sailing to Makatea has been cancelled amid speculation that the atoll could be opened for phosphate mining by an Australian company, Avenir Makatea.

Papeete protest against resumption of phosphate mining on Makatea

Papeete protest against resumption of phosphate mining on Makatea Photo: FB

Two associations, Fatu Fenua no Makatea and Rupe no Makatea, have been seeking to maintain the raised atoll's biodiversity.

They wanted to go Makatea before the planned arrival of a government delegation later this week.

The government team, which includes the president Edouard Fritch, is expected to travel on a government vessel from Papeete to the Tuamotus to meet Colin Randall who is the head of Avenir Makatea.

His company has applied for a licence to mine 6.5 billion tonnes of phosphate over 27 years in an effort supported by the mayor of the nearby atoll of Rangiroa.

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

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