10 Apr 2006

New Caledonian protestors seek UN role in Goro dispute

3:48 pm on 10 April 2006

Reports from New Caledonia say the Kanak group behind the violent protest that has closed the Goro Nickel project wants the United Nations to be involved in negotiations with the French state and other stakeholders.

Rheebu Nuu activists wrecked equipment worth ten million US dollars on Goro's construction site in the south of the main island eight days ago, prompting the company to lay off its labour force.

Rheebu Nuu claims its action is to protect the environment but the provincial government says the vandalism is to push demands for royalties.

A large contingent of French police is in the Yate area where 100 people today demonstrated in favour of the project.

Goro Nickel is today briefing its employees about the lay-off options while hundreds more sub-contractors are set to stay out of work.

The site has been calm but Goro Nickel said the security situation is such that it cannot build and then run a two-billion US dollar nickel plant.

The week-long tension has contributed to a 10 percent rise in the price of nickel on the world market.

In response to last week's clashes, Australia has reviewed its travel advisory and warns that industrial relations disputes have the potential to create localised tensions and disruptions.