12 Oct 2005

New Caledonia minister seeks quick resolution to nickel dispute

4:24 pm on 12 October 2005

New Caledonia's territorial minister for mining is seeking a quick resolution to a labour dispute affecting the territory's nickel smelter.

Mineworkers who are members of the CST union have now been blocking access to supplies of nickel ore for more than a week.

The nickel smelter at Dumbea needs a constant supply of ore to be able to operate.

The mining minister, Didier Leroux, says the union and the SLN board need to come to the negotiating table.

Mr Leroux told French radio RFO a solution is in the public interest.

"Remember that the provincial governments own thirty per cent of SLN, and they've received one billion three hundred million French Pacific Francs in dividends. SLN is therefore the business of all Caledonians, we are all New Caledonians, so let's find the path of dialogue and discussions, and let's stop the blockades."

New Caledonia's mining minister, Didier Leroux.