22 Nov 2005

Paris talks in bid to secure New Caledonia's northern project

5:24 pm on 22 November 2005

Fresh talks are being held in Paris in a bid to secure funding for the construction of a nickel plant in New Caledonia's north.

This comes amid uncertainty over the position of Falconbridge of Canada which has a 49-percent stake in the Koniambo project while it is in merger talks with Inco of Canada that itself has a nickel project in the territory's south.

Representatives of the northern province's SMSP company, which is the Koniambo majority stakeholder, are in Paris trying to get guarantees for the 2.2 billion US dollar enterprise.

The news agency, AFP, says there appear to be problems to get bank support for the project.

The Koniambo project is part of a political process to develop the economy in New Caledonia's mainly Kanak northern province and it would see massive French support if the conditions of the 1998 Bercy accord are met and 100 million US dollars is committed by the end of next month to build the plant.