17 May 2003

French minister receives briefing on New Caledonia mining project

9:07 am on 17 May 2003

The chairman of Canadian nickel mining giant INCO has met with the French minister for overseas to discuss the stalled Goro project in New Caledonia.

Scott Hand briefed Brigitte Girardin in Paris and informed her that the nickel project, which is 85 percent owned by INCO, could become operational by the end of 2005 or early 2006.

INCO suspended work at Goro over large cost over-runs from the initial estimate of 1.4 billion U.S. dollars.

INCO president, Peter Jones, says a full review of the project found that there are real opportunities to reduce the capital cost and the company remains committed to seeing it through.

He says the goal is to establish labour and contractual ground rules aimed at preventing any costly work interruptions when construction resumes.

Mr Jones also says a consultation process is to be undertaken with regard to employment and training opportunities for local people.