14 Oct 2015

New Caledonia Congress to debate nickel policy

11:08 am on 14 October 2015

New Caledonia's Congress is today due to meet in an extraordinary sitting to discuss the government's controversial nickel policy which in August prompted a three-week industrial conflict.

Truck blockade lifted temporarily in New Caledonia.

A photo taken on August 19, 2015 in Noumea shows trucks blocking the Riviere Salee roundabout, 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

The meeting was called after Paris for the first time invoked its right to summon the territory's legislature in a bid to advance the debate amid a protracted dispute.

The government in Noumea is refusing to approve exports of low grade nickel ore to China after a decline in exports to Australia.

Support for the policy in Congress is evenly divided, with splits on the matter within the two traditionally rival political sides.

The August protests, which caused major disruptions across the territory, saw some drivers align themselves with small miners and one of the main companies, SLN.

The conflict ended with an agreement for further talks but disagreements over how to proceed resulted in legal action.

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