Joy in New Caledonia over the go-ahead for a new nickel project has been tempered with caution in the light of a takeover bid.
The metals group Falconbridge has won rights to exploit a vast deposit of nickel ore at Koniambo.
A spokesman for the independence movement FLNKS, Victor Tutugoro, is looking forward to the implementation of the project.
The Canadian company Inco is already building a nickel plant, known as Goro Nickel, in southern New Caledonia.
Inco is considering buying out Falconbridge, and the mining minister Didier Leroux says this could complicate the timetable for both projects.
Construction at the Goro Nickel site is expected to be completed by the end of 2007, after which work would start at Koniambo, where production would
begin in 2010.