20 May 2014

Uncertainty over Vale nickel plant in New Caledonia

4:02 pm on 20 May 2014

There is continued uncertainty over when Vale's nickel plant in New Caledonia will resume operations, leaving those employed there in limbo.

Operations have been suspended at the Goro plant for almost two weeks after 100,000 litres of effluent, containing some acid, ended up in a creek.

Chiefs of the tribes in the Southern Province are calling for the plant to be shut permanently, and have been blocking the plant's entrance.

But the business organisation MEDEF has expressed concerns that if the plant is shut down, there will be huge economic and social implications.

It has said 1,350 jobs are at stake, and the plant's suspension may have a snowball effect on other industries which subcontract and supply to Vale.

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Photo: RNZ / Vale

Local media has reported those not working during the suspension do not know whether they will be paid.

Numerous requests for comment from Vale New Caledonia and Vale International have been unsuccessful.