9 Dec 2005

France and Canada's Falconbridge in fresh New Caledonia nickel talks

4:42 pm on 9 December 2005

The French minister for overseas territories, Francois Baroin, and the chairman of the Canadian mining company, Falconbridge, Aaron Regent have held talks in Paris in an apparent bid to find a solution to the impasse facing a nickel project in New Caledonia.

This comes a week after Falconbridge rejected the latest French position on the financing of the project.

The planned plant in New Caledonia's north has been described by France as a priority, saying it is committed to it as part of a policy to rebalance the territory's economy.

The project faces a deadline of December the 31st by which 100 million US dollars has to be committed by Falconbridge for it and the majority stakeholder in New Caledonia to get a massive and valuable ore deposit.

This has raised the attention of the French firm Eramet which may take over the deposit should the deal with Falconbridge fail.

The uncertainty has caused disquiet among the Kanak population and a mass rally is planned in Noumea tomorrow in support of the nickel project in the north.