29 Dec 2005

Paris court rejects Eramet bid for Koniambo nickel mining rights

11:19 am on 29 December 2005

A Paris court has dismissed a legal challenge mounted by metals group Eramet to plans by Canadian mining and metals company Falconbridge to establish a giant nickel-processing plant on New Caledonia.

Eramet had sought to freeze the transfer to Falconbridge of exploitation rights for a factory near one of the world's richest nickel deposits at Koniambo in the northern part of the island.

The factory will be 49-percent owned by Falconbridge and 51-percent owned

by SMSP, the development arm of the North Province of New Caledonia.

Our correspondent, Patrick Decloitre, says the indigenous Kanak population will be celebrating the court ruling which has pushed the 1998 Bercy Accord closer towards being fulfilled.

"There would be rejoicing because it was an economic aggreement but it was also part of a much wider process and a very political one indeed, to assist in the long-term stability of New Caledonia because it was perceived at the time that one of the causes of the pro-independence claims was in fact that the Northern province didn't get enough access to its own resources."