Protesters shut down SLN’s Tiebaghi mine in New Caledonia’s far north Photo: FB MGRK Ouémaolep Nouvelle-Caledonie
Radio New Zealand | 3 October 2018
A second large nickel mine in New Caledonia has been blockaded, stopping about 200 people from going to work.
Activists of the Movement of Revolutionary Kanak Groups took the action at Tiebaghi which is a key nickel mine of the SLN company.
The group said it wanted next month’s independence referendum called off, land returned and indigenous rights recognised.
It also said it wanted to negotiate only with the French state, accusing it of pillaging the area’s wealth.
One of its leaders said the group was against the referendum because it wouldn’t guarantee independence, adding that no referendum was held to seize New Caledonia.
The shutdown of the Tiebaghi site in the far north of the main island follows the closure two months ago of the Kouaoua mining centre by a local group opposed to expanded mining.
Security forces have not intervened.
Protestors in New Caledonia’s north demanding independence from France Photo: FB MGRK Ouémaolep Nouvelle-Caledonie
Radio New Zealand International
The head of the Eramet nickel company, Patrick Buffet, says the nickel market is in a deep crisis and incurring massive losses to its New Caledonian subsidiary, SLN.
Mr Buffet says the price has plummeted to six US dollars a pound, which is well below the production cost of about 9 dollars.
He says the situation for the SLN plant in Noumea is serious as it is losing about 27 million US dollars a month.
To cope with the challenges, he says SLN will have to cut costs.
Mr Buffet says the crisis is due to the huge stocks being produced by China, which has been getting large quantities of ore from Indonesia.
Chinese producers have emerged as a major force, raising output within ten years from zero to 450,000 tonnes a year.
SLN expects to produce 52,000 tonnes this year.