There has been a protest at the Vale nickel plant in the south of New Caledonia over the latest awarding of major new contracts.
Accoring to local media, the protest was led by a group of local businesses feeling rebuffed in favour of external providers for a $US600 million plant upgrade.
Vale this week signed $US300 million worth of contracts for work on the so-called Lucy project which involves new waste treatment and storage methods.
Up to 600 specialists are expected to arrive within the next few weeks to start earthworks for the site.
The expansion by Vale marks a turn-around in its plans after considering mothballing the $US8 billion plant at Goro in view of a nickel price slump.
The decision to invest is seen as a sign of optimism that nickel will be in higher demand for use in batteries of electric vehicles.