30 Jan 2006

Construction of northern nickel project in New Caledonia underway this year - official

8:38 pm on 30 January 2006

A spokesperson for a planned huge nickel mining project in northern New Caledonia, Stephane Camerlynck, says construction at the mining site will begin this year.

The project has been stalled since last year after the Canadian mining company, Falconbridge, and another giant Canadian mining company, Inco, began discussng a merger.

Falconbridge is the main investor in the northern project.

The merger offer has been extended to February 27 after anti trust regulators, in the European Union and the United States began investigating.

There have been fears that the merger could end the project, but Mr Camerlynck says it will go ahead as planned, with some contracts signed last week.

"In fact the project is already going ahead. Last week we signed a contract with Hatch-Technip that will be the builders, the contractors. We signed a contract of 230 million US dollars. At the moment nothing has changed for us. Falconbridge has not frozen anything on the Koniambu because of this merger. It is business as usual."

He says a budget of 11 million US dollars is earmarked for preliminary earth works, with major construction to start next year.