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French Polynesia: Sustainability pledge by Australian-owned company amid concerns about renewed phosphate mining

Author: Walter Zweifel, Radio New Zealand , Published on: 19 November 2019

"Phosphate mining on French Polynesia's Makatea step closer", 14 November 2019

Amid resistance by environmental groups,…Avenir Makatea has been lobbying for years to extract 6.5 million tonnes of phosphate…from the raised atoll. The company’s head Colin Randall [said]…“This will…create employment, but more importantly for the land owners…you’ll end up with sustainable development and they can decide what they want to do with their land”…

Between 1906 and 1966, Makatea was ravaged by phosphate mining. [At] the height…, Makatea had about 3000 inhabitants but the number has since dwindled to below 100. In 2017, the mining minister…told local television that Makatea could not be left as it was. [The] Association Te Rupe no Makatea was alarmed at the mining plans…, its president…[saying] with its rich biodiversity, Matakea…[serves] as a refuge for an area threatened by [rising] sea-levels. [The]…new mining code...has been produced for the assembly commission’s consideration and is expected to be approved. [O]pposition assembly member and landowner, Moetai Brotherson, [said]…“…I’m really wary for Makatea because we have a lot of landowners and inhabitants who are against the intended project that they are going to use…an expedited process”. The mining code [suggests]…that compensation [to the landowners] would be well above the legal minimum.   

[T]he Economic, Social, Environmental and Cultural Council, gave its assessment of the draft, pointing out that the impact of renewed mining is not known,…[also] refer[ring] to the Environmental Charter…as there was an obligation to protect the environment. The Council…went as far as saying that for the duration of the mining project there had to be…[public]…participation. Brotherson said he feared the [use of the] so-called 'SAGE'...process…“you can only give advice on the internet….people who don’t have good internet won’t be able to give their thoughts…”.  An online petition to stop mining has attracted almost a quarter of a million signatures.

Read the full post here

Related companies: Avenir Makatea Pty Ltd