The Canadian nickel company, Falconbridge, says it hopes to start its mining project in New Caledonia's north next month.
The 2.2 billion US dollar venture has been planned with SMSP of New Caledonia as a key project aimed at re-balancing the territory's economy.
A leader of the venture company, Bryan Kenny, has told the Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper that work on the nickel smelter should get underway in August and last for 50 months so that production can begin in 2009.
His comments come as a state-sponsored 1998 accord to swap ore deposits within New Caledonia requires the project's launch by the end of the year for the deal to stand.
Its terms are seen favourable for Falconbridge but it requires the company to commit a 100 million US dollar investment by the end of December.