21 Aug 2006

Uncertainty remains over New Caledonia's Northern Project

6:12 am on 21 August 2006

The New Caledonian minister for mining and economic development, Didier Leroux, says there is still uncertainty if the territory's northern nickel project will go ahead.

The two-billion US dollar project is aimed at developing the territory's mainly Kanak north in line with the 1998 Noumea accord.

But the main overseas partner in this project, Falconbridge of Canada, has been taken over by Swiss-based Xtrata.

Xtrata said earlier it may not develop the project, and Mr Leroux says the company has not made any further announcements regarding the future of the northern project.

"I would lie if I would tell you that I know where we are heading to, because the intentions of Xtrata are not clear regarding the northern project in New Caledonia."

Mr Leroux says the government is monitoring the situation to prevent civil unrest.

He also says the government will have to find a solution if the project won't go ahead with the current partner.