The South Pacific's biggest industrial project is in jeopardy after a court in New Caledonia cast doubt on the validity of the licence to build the two-billion US dollar Goro Nickel plant.
A preliminary ruling by an administrative tribunal in Noumea upheld a complaint by the Kanak Rheebu Nuu group that the environmental impact study was patently inadequate.
A final decision is to be handed down at a date yet to be set but those seeking a stop to the project say the issue is back on the agenda.
Two months ago, Rheebu Nuu group activists caused 10 million US dollars in damage to Goro vehicles and installations in a weekend protest, prompting the continued deployment of French riot police.
On Monday, thousands of people took to the streets of Noumea asking for a stop to the project.
On Wednesday, Goro Nickel issued a statement, saying its project was being carried out in a sustainable way and reaffirming its commitment to respect nature and the people.