24 Mar 2003

Kanak leaders seek talks with Inco over New Caledonia's Goro nickel project

3:42 pm on 24 March 2003

Kanak leaders have called on the Canadian mining company, Inco, to open negotiations with them on their plan to build a nickel plant at Goro in New Caledonia's south.

This comes amid concern over the environmental impact of the project and the recent job losses because the project was put on hold.

After talks with Inco in Canada, a delegate, Raphael Mapou, says the project will not proceed unless there is co-operation with the Kanak people living in the area of the proposed plant.

Work at Goro has been suspended amid plans to review the project which is now estimated to cost more than 2 billion US dollars to complete.

Mr Mapou says the Kanaks denounce Inco's attitude and accuse the company of acting without consideration for the workers and contractors and the people of New Caledonia.

The Kanak delegation has also met indigenous peoples in Canada to learn about how they succeeded in getting their interests included in mining projects.

A decision on the future of the Goro nickel project is expected to be announced next month.