A contract to build a nickel processing plant in New Caledonia has been given to an Anglo-Canadian consortium, called CEG.
It is made up of Foster Wheeler and SNC Lavalin.
A final schedule for construction of the Goro Nickel plant in the south of the French territory is expected to be confirmed by the middle of next year.
Goro Nickel's chief executive, Pierre Alla, says the consortium will take all possible steps to protect the environment.
"It's a process which is very sound environmentally. We are not going to dispose any tailings at sea. They will be stored on shore. We are the third party in the review of the process - they have made a few recommendations and we are following these recommendations."
Pierre Alla says the firm is confident it is developing one of the most environmentally safe projects in the world.