10 Mar 2003

NZ's Trade Minister has meeting moved to Noumea because of protests at nickel plant

11:27 am on 10 March 2003

A briefing at New Caledonia's Goro Nickel company to New Zealand's visitng trade minister, Jim Sutton, had to be moved to Noumea as disgruntled workers threatened to block access to the site of a proposed nickel plant.

The project is being built with the Canadian company, Inco.

The workers object to the redundancy offer from BHT, the company which Inco has dropped as a contractor.

The 1 point six billion US dollar project has been suspended suspended twice in the last six months because of disputes.

The entreprise is also being reviewed, as it is now expected to cost nearly 3 billion Us dollars to complete.

Mr Sutton says he was told the project will go ahead and that it will offer opportunities for New Zealand companies.