14 Oct 2013

New Caledonia's nickel industry the subject of talks in Paris

10:45 am on 14 October 2013

Talks in Paris have highlighted the need to agree on a strategy for New Caledonia's dominant nickel industry to accompany discussions about the territory's institutional future.

Under the leadership of the French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, the signatories of the Noumea Accord have discussed the ongoing transfer of power ahead of a possible independence referendum after next year's territorial election.

Pierre Frogier, who is a former president and a leader within the anti-independence camp, says the French state has to clarify its role within the Eramet mining company.

Eramet is the parent company of Noumea's long-established SLN smelter, which has access to huge ore reserves.

These are coveted by the newly-launched smelter in Koniambo, which was launched as part of a state-backed effort to develop the poorer, mainly Kanak northern province.

Mr Ayrault says more talks need to be held to develop a common vision to benefit New Caledonia in the long run.