Police end blockade of New Caledonia mine

More than 60 police in New Caledonia have removed a barricade at the nickel mine in Kouaoua.

The police action came a day after a court in Noumea authorised the expulsion of a group of local men who had set up the barricade last week.

The mining site, which is owned by the SLN nickel company, had already been closed for more than two months from August but an agreement had been reached in late October for operations to resume.

Earlier this week, there was another fire at Kouaoua – the thirteenth such attack this year on the mine’s conveyor belt system which feeds nickel ore to the coast for shipping to the SLN smelter in Noumea.

The site had been closed by a group opposed to the expansion of mining from early August until late October when a tentative agreement had been reached for work to restart.

The Kouaoua mine provides about 40 percent of the ore for the SLN smelter.

The earlier blockade is estimated to have incurred SLN losses of almost $US20 million.

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