5 Jun 2020

Unease grows in New Caledonia over Vale nickel plant sale

2:47 pm on 5 June 2020

Access to New Caledonia's Vale nickel plant has been restricted by sub-contractors worried about the plant's sale.

New Caledonia nickel mining

New Caledonia nickel mining Photo: supplied

Members of the SAS Goro Mines, which groups businesses tied to the nickel mining venture, set up roadblocks along the main road south of Noumea to pressure the Vale leadership into talks about the impending sale's implications.

The president of the Southern Province Sonia Backes went to the scene and vowed to help find a solution.

Talks were planned but it remains unclear where they will go ahead and who will join them, with SAS Goro Mines wishing to meet at the French High Commission.

Last month, Vale said it had struck a deal with New Century Resources of Australia for the Melbourne-based miner to buy 95 percent of its assets.

Vale of Brazil, which acquired the nickel project at Goro when it took over the Canadian miner Inco in 2006, is estimated to have spent $US9 billion on the plant.

Part of original commissioning process involved the inclusion of the local interests which formed SAS Goro Mines to benefit the area's businesses.

The sale to New Century Resources is accompanied by a bid by Vale to sell two million tonnes of nickel ore a year for export which can only go ahead if the mining code is changed.

Pro-independence parties are against any such change, insisting that the nickel resource should be processed in New Caledonia as was the original plan.

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