20 Aug 2015

Noumea blockades set to continue

11:08 am on 20 August 2015

Truck drivers who have mounted blockades as part of a protest around New Caledonia's capital have lifted roadblocks temporarily.

Truck blockade lifted temporarily in New Caledonia.

Truck blockade in New Caledonia Photo: AFP

The drivers attached to the nickel mining contractor union, ContraKmine, established initial blockades two weeks ago but stepped up their protest this week after the

President of New Caledonia's government Philippe Germain unilaterally broke off from negotiations.

This morning the blockades have been eased while representatives of the union meet with New Caledonia's government and the French High Commissioner to discuss central issues.

The drivers are upset about a decision by New Caledonia's committee for external mining trade not to approve of a number of applications to export low grade ore to China submitted by Societe Le Nickel and several small miners.

The truck drivers have crippled traffic flow in and around Noumea over the past couple of days.

The disruptions also triggered brief unrest in which a policeman was injured when a shot was fired directly at a vehicle in Mont Dore during attempts to put out a roadside fire.

The drivers have allowed access for certain people including passengers on international flights from Tontouta, but blockades are set to continue until the government restarts negotiations.

Angry motorists in New Caledonia during a road blockade.

Motorists wait inside and ouside their vehicles near the Belle Vie roundabout in Noumea on August 19, 2015, as truck drivers blocked the different roundabouts leading to the city with 30-tonne trucks on the 15th day of protests against the government concerning the opening of a nickel ore export canal to China. Photo: AFP