14 Sep 2006

New Caledonia gives mining giant more time to study proposed northern nickel project

2:05 pm on 14 September 2006

The New Caledonian minister for mining, Didier Leroux, says his government will grant mining company Xstrata some time to review the planned two billion US dollar northern nickel project, but won't wait indefinitely.

The project is aimed at developing the territory's mainly Kanak north in line with the 1998 Noumea accord.

Delays have come about as a result of the main overseas project partner, Falconbridge of Canada, being taken over by Swiss-based Xstrata, which has asked the New Caledonian government for time to review plans to build the plant because of higher energy prices.

Mr Leroux says his government is not concerned that the project won't go ahead at this stage.

"Not at this stage, it is not at all what they said. They said that they have the intention of going ahead, but that they were reviewing the whole thing. What we insisted upon is to be kept informed of the review processing."

Mr Leroux said earlier his government will have to find a solution if the project doesn't go ahead with the current partner.