16 Oct 2015

New Caledonia power plant on hold

2:55 pm on 16 October 2015

It has been announced in Paris that plans to build a new power plant for New Caledonia's SLN nickel company in Noumea are on hold.

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Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

SLN's parent company, Eramet, made the announcement as part of cuts prompted by the drop in commodity prices, which puts into question the plant's viability.

SLN, which is reportedly set to lose almost US$300 million a year, was to get a new coal-fired power plant but Eramet has deferred plans to build it.

The proposed power plant at Doniambo was to cost almost US$1 billion and replace one deemed to cause too much pollution.

The president of the southern province, Philippe Michel, is alarmed at the Eramet decision to delay an announcement, saying it amounts to an end of the project.

Environmentalists had called for other sources of energy than coal to be used at the proposed plant, but the French government said coal was the most economical and efficient source.

The group Ensemble pour la Planete said the state was being schizophrenic, flouting promises and not respecting its commitments over climate change and biodiversity protection.

The recent commissioning of two other coal-fired metal factories in the territory has made New Caledonia one of the world's largest per capita emitters of carbon dioxide.