3 Sep 2018

New Caledonia nickel company halts expansion - reports

5:52 am on 3 September 2018

Reports from New Caledonia say the SLN nickel company has acceded to instructions by the northern province to halt its mining expansion plans in Kouaoua.

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Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The site has been blockaded for nearly a month, which prompted SLN to stop all operations and deploy staff elsewhere.

In view of the conflict, the northern province asked for a suspension of the plans.

SLN had been given the consent to expand mining by local elders but a group of dozens of protesters objected, citing environmental concerns.

The Kouaoua mine produces about 600,000 tons of nickel ore a year, accounting for about 20 percent of the ore used by the SLN smelter in Noumea.

The mining expansion was expected to almost double the share of ore which Kouaoua provides for SLN.

French-mediated talks have been held between the elders and the protesters, but the impasse continues.

More talks are expected in the days to come.

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