Mediation call after New Caledonia mine closure

The SLN plant in Noumea. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

NOUMEA, 16 AUGUST 2018 (RNZ PACIFIC) – New Caledonia’s environmentalist group Rheebu Nuu has called for mediation over this week’s closure of the nickel mine in Kouaoua.

The SLN nickel company closed its mining operations in Kouaoua indefinitely amid a blockade of the site by dozens of young people and after yet another arson attack on its installations.

Rheebu Nuu said an alternative needs to be found to the exploitation of ecologically important areas after the youth protesters called for a stop to the clearfelling of trees to expand mining.

Rheebu Nuu has denounced the scorched earth policy of SLN and accuses it of blackmailing the locals with job losses, which it said was unworthy for a multinational company.

It also called on New Caledonians to show sympathy for Kouaoua because for almost 70 years the town provided colossal wealth.

Rheebu Nuu said the French state and the northern province should initiate mediation.

The closure is expected to affect directly at least 400 jobs.

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