26 Feb 2020

Deal with locals at New Caledonia's Vale in doubt

3:04 pm on 26 February 2020

New Caledonia's Vale nickel company has met representatives of the indigenous Rheebu Nuu group and local customary leaders as the company is in the process of selling its 59 percent stake.

A photo taken on May 27, 2015 shows Brazilian Vale's nickel processing plant of Goro in southern New Caledonia.

A photo taken on May 27, 2015 shows Brazilian Vale's nickel processing plant of Goro in southern New Caledonia. Photo: AFP PHOTO / FRED PAYET

According to media reports, the group and the chiefs failed to get assurances that the arrangements with Vale will continue to be honoured by a prospective buyer whose name could be announced within a month.

The deal, signed in 2008, was aimed at protecting the environment and securing local involvement in the nickel mining and production process at Goro, in the very south of the main island.

It was reached after years of confrontation between the developers and Rheebu Nuu.

The head of Vale New Caledonia is quoted as saying that for the next five years orders were in while he hoped prices would not sag.

The nickel sector has been boosted by hopes that the metal will be in increased demand to build batteries for electric vehicles.

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