17 Jul 2006

Kanaks against more talks over New Caledonia nickel project

4:02 pm on 17 July 2006

Kanak opponents of New Caledonia's Goro Nickel project say they will hold no more talks with the Goro nickel company.

The two-billion US dollar nickel project was to be completed next year but has been faced with protests and sabotage, and Goro Nickel now says it wants a so-called citizens pact to get the public's support.

Roundtable talks were held last week between the Southern province, the nickel company as well as representatives of the Kanak Rheebu Nuu and Caugern groups, but Kanak USTKE union and Caugern spokesperson, Pierre Chauvat, says Goro Nickel's proposal is a cover-up.

"That's just a masquerade from Goro. We had a big meeting with Rheebu Nuu and Caugern on Friday at Goro and we decided not to have talks any more with Goro, and only to keep talks with the Southern Province, because Goro is not respecting anything."

Mr Chauvat says further talks are planned between the local government, Rheebu Nuu and Caugern.

Goro Nickel's spokesperson, Catherine Guillaume, says the company wants to ensure the project's go ahead.

We made the first step, we opened the door of the discussion. And then people have to come and bring into this pact what they would like to bring in, everything on training, on employment, on working with local companies, programmes to reduce all negative impacts, all the environmental protection is in this pact.

Catherine Guillaume says the company is committed to an environmentally safe project and will meet the standards that are legally required.