22 Apr 2013

Blast at Koniambo nickel plant in New Caledonia

1:33 pm on 22 April 2013

A minor explosion has occurred at New Caledonia's new Koniambo nickel plant as the first quantity of nickel was being produced.

The Nouvelles Caledoniennes reports that no injuries have been reported as a result of the blast on Saturday.

It's not known how big the damage is.

An investigation has been launched and to date there has been no explanation as to the cause of the explosion.

The plant was launched last week, six years after work began on the five-billion US dollar project, which is part of a long-standing French-backed plan to help develop the economy of New Caledonia's north.

51 percent of the plant is owned by SMSP, which is the nickel mining arm of the northern provincial government, with the rest being held by Swiss-based miner Xstrata.