17 Jun 2008

French court annuls New Caledonia's 2002 Prony deal

3:25 pm on 17 June 2008

An appeal court in Paris has annulled a permit issued by anti-independence politicians of New Caledonia's southern province six years ago which gave the Prony nickel deposits to the operators of the Goro nickel project.

The decision has been reported in the Noumea daily newspaper which says four million tonnes of nickel is again up for bidding.

The allocation in 2002 was made by the then provincial president, Jacques Lafleur, and provoked widespread demonstrations by the territory's customary senate, the pro-independence FLNKS movement and environmentalists.

The move to give the Prony deposit to Inco of Canada for free was seen as instrumental in launching the project in the territory's south.