15 Nov 2013

Vale nickel plant suspends operations in New Caledonia

9:32 am on 15 November 2013

The nickel company Vale in New Caledonia has suspended operations after an effluent pipe leading through a lagoon of a World Heritage site was damaged.

This comes after Vale halved production at its five-billion US dollar plant on Wednesday, with the government of the territory's southern province giving the company until today to explain the extent of the damage.

The pipe, which is less than a metre in diameter and 23 kilometres long, leads to the open sea to discharge mine effluent at a depth of 46 metres.

In initial statement, Vale has said the incident has caused no damage to the environment.

Last year, Vale was fined over an acid spill at its plant four years ago.

The spill of more than 40,000 litres of acid was not contained and about 2,000 litres ended up in Prony Bay, killing nearly 2,000 fish.