Scientists to explain seabed mineral wealth to Wallis and Futuna communities

Sampling copper under the sea. Picture: RNZ

A delegation of French scientists is due in Wallis and Futuna to explain to locals the significance of rare earths which are found off their islands.

The team, led by scientists of the IRD institute, includes anthropologists and sociolinguists who are to chart views on the possible impact of mining the minerals.

The visit comes after traditional leaders expressed reservations about plans to sell off their resources.

The French prefect has told local television that the team will present information to gauge if the people of Wallis and Futuna agree with exploration plans.

He says they will detail the legal and environmental implications of any activity after which he says the local leaders will express themselves.

The team is scheduled to spend 11 days in the territory.

Five years ago, the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council urged the government to secure resources in the seabed off France’s overseas territories.