Five New Caledonian environmental groups have demanded that the Vale nickel company pay 7.8 million US dollars for the damage caused by an acid spill four years ago.
The demand was made in the appeal court in Noumea, which heard the case brought by the prosecution after a lower court had fined Vale 5,000 US dollars last year.
A lawyer acting for the environmentalists says Vale has to be hit in the pocket, adding that the demanded sum equals to one Pacific franc for every square centimetre affected by the spill.
Vale's lawyer says the demanded compensation is pharaonic in size and should be rejected because the damage was extremely modest.
Enviromentalists say tens of thousands of fish died because of the spill.
The appeal court ruling is expected on February the 24th.
Over the years, there have been several incidents at the Vale plant, which suspended operations two weeks ago after an effluent pipe through a World Heritage lagoon burst.