20 Nov 2020

Lecornu firm on avoiding 'mess' in New Caledonia

12:10 pm on 20 November 2020

The French Overseas Minister, Sebastien Lecornu, says France will not tolerate what he calls a mess in New Caledonia where there have been rallies and blockades over the planned sale of the Vale nickel plant.

Sebastien Lecornu

Sebastien Lecornu Photo: AFP or licensors

Speaking in the National Assembly in Paris, the minister said no one should have any illusion that they can do whatever they want.

Yesterday, police restored access to the port of Noumea after using tear gas on Tuesday to disperse opponents of the sale who tried to block access to the seat of government.

Lecornu said he found it strange that those backing Sofinor's bid for the Vale plant now sought the French government's input after failing for months to keep it in the loop.

He said it was surprised that he wasn't told about it while he was in Noumea last month.

During his stay, a large rally was held in support of the Sofinor offer.

Vale is in exclusive negotiations with a new consortium, Prony Resources, which has a Swiss-based commodity trader, Trafigura, as a key stakeholder.

Access to the Vale mine is still blocked and the USTKE union has called for a one-day general strike.

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