13 Dec 2005

French mining firm's shares rise, ahead of crucial New Caledonia nickel ruling

2:39 pm on 13 December 2005

The French state-owned mining company, Eramet, has seen its share price rise this morning on the CAC-40 stockmarket in Paris.

The trading is in anticipation of a court ruling in Paris tonight on whether Eramet, or the northern provincial government of New Caledonia, has the right to a huge and valuable deposit of nickel ore.

Under the Bercy Accord of 1998, the northern provincial government has the rights to the deposit, if it can start building a nickel smelter there before the end of this month.

Otherwise the mining rights revert to the French state.

The northern province of New Caledonia says it can go ahead with the nickel smelter in partnership with the Canadian company Falconbridge, which has agreed to pay 2.7 billion US dollars to build the smelter.

France has touted the Koniambo project as a way to boost the economy of the comparatively underdeveloped and mainly ethnic Kanak northern province of New Caledonia.