18 Oct 2007

Xstrata decision to launch Koniambo nickel plant welcomed in New Caledonia

1:15 pm on 18 October 2007

There has been a positive response in New Caledonia to a decision by Swiss miner Xstrata to go ahead with the Koniambo nickel project which at nearly four billion US dollars will be the region's biggest enterprise.

Parties across the political spectrum have welcomed the decision to launch the nickel plant in the mainly Kanak north in a joint venture with the local SMSP company.

The plants is to start production in 2011 and reach full production of 60,000 tonnes of nickel a year from 2013.

The president of the Northern Province, Paul Neaoutyine, says it's a project that will determine the country's future.

The French prime minister, Francois Fillon, has also welcomed the announcement.

The Koniambo project is seen as a key element to rebalance the territory's economy which traditionally has been centred on Noumea in the territory's south.