New Caledonia's SMSP mining company has approved the latest proposal to build a nickel plant in the mainly Kanak north of the territory at a cost tipped to be about three billion US dollars.
A final decision is expected next month when shareholders of the foreign minority stakeholders Xstrata of Switzerland meet.
The head of SMSP, Andre Dang, says the project, which he says promises to be highly profitable, is set to begin producing nickel in late 2010.
He says SMSP will fund most of the project which will be possible because of its partnership with the world's top stainless steel producer, Posco of South Korea.
The partnership is set to contribute 500 million dollars while the French state is set to exempt taxes for some of the enterprise which is seen as vital to develop the Kanak areas of the north.
Work on a port and a power station is expected to begin before the end of the year.