14 Oct 2005

Kanak leaders in New Caledonia condemn planned nickel buyout

11:14 am on 14 October 2005

Kanak leaders in New Caledonia have described the proposed merger of two nickel mining giants as a crushing blow.

The Rheebu Nuu Committee says Inco's planned buyout of Falconbridge is a massive operation of financial speculation.

The Kanak community representatives say they're still against the construction of Inco's Goro project in the south of New Caledonia, regardless of any takeover.

The director-general of the Goro project, Ron Renton, says the 2,000 Filipino workers being brought in to set up the project will leave, and the jobs in operating the project will go to New Caledonians.

"They are here to construct the project because the range of skills required to construct this project are simply not available in New Caledonia. Certainly not in terms of the volume or quantity to build this project. There simply aren't the number of high-pressure welders, coded welders, instrument-fitters and so on, in the island."

Mr Renton says the indigenous Kanaks are claiming separate rights from those accorded by their status as French citizens.