27 Nov 2018

Police to be stationed in New Caledonia mining town

3:15 pm on 27 November 2018

The French High Commission has affirmed its intention to restore order in the New Caledonian mining town of Kouaoua by stationing about 20 armed police there permanently.

This follows last week's arrest of three people for arson attacks on the installations of the SLN nickel mining company.

There have been 15 fires this year on the conveyor belt at Kouaoua which feeds ore to the coast for shipping to the SLN smelter in Noumea.

The High Commission said the exasperation by Kouaoua residents and SLN employees was legitimate in the face of actions which nothing could justify.

The Kouaoua site, which provides more than a third of SLN's ore, was closed for nearly three months this year as a result of two blockades set up by a local group opposed to expanded mining.

TV reports said there had been a rally in Kouaoua to protest against the lawlessness by some young people accused of setting the fires.

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