17 Apr 2008

Koniambo site in New Caledonia's north blocked by truckers' action

5:09 pm on 17 April 2008

Disgruntled truck drivers have blocked the access to a construction site in New Caledonia's north where the Koniambo nickel plant is to be built.

A regional employers' group says the truckers want the project developer to make an equitable distribution of the preparatory earthworks, claiming the contracts are being tailored to suit businesses from the south.

The newspaper, Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes, reports that businesses in the north also demand to be paid as much as is being offered to the contractors from the south.

The project is expected to create 2,000 jobs during its construction phase and is to be completed by 2011.

The Koniambo nickel plant will cost an estimated 3.8 billion US dollars and is being developed by Xstrata of Switzerland.

The project has been given a 230 million US dollar tax holiday by France which is keen for Koniambo to be set up as a way of developing the economy of the mainly Kanak north.