18 Aug 2015

New Caledonia unrest linked to contractor protests

10:00 pm on 18 August 2015

A key road into New Caledonia's capital has been blocked after truck drivers attached to nickel mining contractors staged another protest.

It comes as unrest and fires broke out close to the southern town of Mt Dore which along with other roads in to nearby Noumea was effectively blocked by the protesting groups.

A policeman has reportedly been shot and wounded during an intervention to counter a fire that broke out near the area, in St Louis.

Ground reports indicate the unrest is a sequel to a protest by truck drivers about the territory's mining policy two weeks ago.

They want New Caledonia's government to begin exporting ore to China after a fall in exports to South Korea, Japan and Australia.

The contractors who transport the ore from the mine to the port, require the opening of a new export channel to China, as the only way to maintain their activity during the downturn.

New Caledonia's President, Philippe Germain, has said that opening up exports to China "is a question relating to the Nickel strategy, and can only be dealt with after much more detailed discussion and debate."