10 Jul 2017

Fire damages New Caledonia mining site

9:10 am on 10 July 2017

A fire in New Caledonia has destroyed part of a conveyor belt used by a mine supplying the SLN nickel plant in Noumea.

The incident occurred in Kouaoua in the territory's north in the early hours of Sunday in what was a suspected criminal act because it is believed an accelerant was used.

The blaze destroyed a 200-metre section of an 11-kilometre conveyor belt system which feeds ore to the coast for shipping to the Noumea plant.

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Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

No figure has been given for the damage.

The mayor of Kouaoua said the fire was hardly the work of petty criminals, suggesting the fire was aimed at SLN.

In January, a small section of the conveyor belt system was damaged in a fire.

A crisis unit has been set up at the site in a bid to repair the system.

SLN has been running at a loss of more than $US20 million a month after years of deficits caused by a depressed nickel price.