22 Nov 2006

French court orders halt to building at New Caledonia nickel plant

9:48 am on 22 November 2006

A court in France has ordered that the Goro Nickel company in New Caledonia stop building part of its nickel plant in the territory's south for environmental reasons.

It has issued the injunction on request of the Kanak group, Rheebu Nuu, which had sought a complete halt to the two-billion US dollar plant amid fears that discharges from the nickel processing could cause lasting pollution of the land area and the lagoon.

The injunction orders Goro Nickel to stop the construction of the waste storage site within 48 hours under threat of a daily 40,000 US dollar fine.

The judges in Paris said while the project complies with New Caledonian laws, some issues have to be first decided by administrative authorities.

The Goro project currently employs about 3,000 people, including hundreds of Filipinos.

It was launched by the Canadian company Inco, which last month was taken over by CVRD of Brazil.