14 Mar 2003

Decision on New Caledonia's Goro nickel plant expected next month

9:40 am on 14 March 2003

New Caledonia's Goro Nickel company says a decision will be made next month on the possible re-launch of its huge project after suspending work late last year for a review.

The company's head, Pierre Alla, says a series of conditions needs to be met for the project's continuation and more will be revealed when Scott Hand, the president of the main shareholder Inco of Canada, has met relevant leaders and parties.

Mr Alla made the disclosure at a meeting in Noumea yesterday where participants said they suffered economically because of the suspension of the project.

The contractor to build the plant, BTH, was dropped by Inco and its last representatives are reported to have left the territory on Tuesday.

The Goro Nickel project was suspended after projected costs rose to above 2-billion US dollars.

The project has been dogged by environmental, social and political problems.