12 Jan 2016

Call for New Caledonia nickel strategy

1:37 pm on 12 January 2016

New Caledonia's truckers have called on the president to convene talks about the future of the nickel sector which is the backbone of the territory's economy.

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

In a letter to Philippe Germain, the truckers' group has given him until Friday to respond to its request for such talks, warning that if there is no reply, strong measures are envisaged.

Last year, the same group blockaded much of the territory for weeks in protest at the government's refusal to allow for the export of low-grade nickel ore to China.

The group says it again wants the president of the pro-independence Caledonian Union, Daniel Goa, who was a mediator last year, to be at the talks called for now.

Discussions have been planned in Paris for early February when the signatories of the Noumea Accord will meet to discuss the nickel strategy

The truckers, whose livelihood depends on mining activity, say they regret that the discussions are scheduled to go ahead outside of New Caledonia.