12 Dec 2002

Inco confirms commitment to New Caledonia's Goro nickel project

5:12 pm on 12 December 2002

The Canadian mining company, Inco, says it is still committed to the Goro nickel project in New Caledonia despite its announcement to suspend work to build a smelter for at least six months.

The president of Inco, Scott Hand, has written to New Caledonia's veteran political leader, Jacques Lafleur, to dispel concern in New Caledonia about the project's future.

Mr Hand says 650 million US dollars has already been invested or is set to be spent but the projected cost overrun of about 500 million dollars would make the project at Goro no longer viable.

He says Inco's commitment includes spending money on training New Caledonians.

Last week, Goro Nickel stopped work for a second time in three months, saying it needed to review its partnership with Sumitomo of Japan, which was to provide a quarter of the capital.

All foreign specialist workers were withdrawn from the site, including a group of Filipinos who had been flown into Noumea only two weeks earlier.