Construction work has been stopped in Goro in New Caledonia where the Canadian company, Inco, is building a new nickel smelter.
Press reports in Noumea say no explanation has been given for the suspension which came a day after a blockade of the site was lifted.
The reports say dozens of Australians working at the site have left Goro for hotels in Noumea and many of them have left the territory for Sydney.
A unnamed source close to the management is quoted as saying the workers are tired as they had not expected to have to work in such a controversial and conflict-laden environment.
There have been calls for more protest against the project with one group wanting to take court action over it.
Last month, about four thousand people took part in a rally to demonstrate against the venture.