The head of the Anglo-Swiss mining conglomerate Xstrata says New Caledonia's Koniambo nickel plant will be in operation by 2012.
Mick Davis has told Noumea's daily newspaper that the construction has been on schedule but it will incur costs of 3.85 billion US dollars.
Work on a new port in the territory's north is well advanced and from August, Chinese-built modules are to be shipped in to build the smelter while a power plant is being built by an indian company.
1,500 people are currently employed on site and a further 3,000 workers are due to arrive from China, India and the Philippines to complete the establishment of the Koniambo plant.
In the south of New Caledonia, the Vale Inco nickel plant is yet to start full production after delays caused in part by a major acid spill.