14 Apr 2008

Kanak group in New Caledonia sets up totem pole as part of opposition to nickel project

5:30 am on 14 April 2008

New Caledonia's Kanak Rheebu Nuu group has set up a totem pole on a sand bank in the lagoon surrounding the main island in a bid to firm up its opposition to the Goro Nickel project.

The group wants to stop the multi-billion US dollar project for

environmental reasons, claiming the planned waste pipe will contaminate the lagoon earmarked for Unesco World Heritage status.

Hundreds of Rheebu Nuu supporters gathered for the weekend occasion to erect the totem which Rheebu Nuu says imposes a taboo and amounts to a challenge to have a dialogue.

Work on the pipe was suspended in February but Goro Nickel wants to test it within the next few months.

Goro Nickel, which is Brazil's biggest overseas investment, says the pipe is the only way to dispose of the effluent to make the proposed plant viable.