In New Caledonia, mobilization against the takeover of the nickel production plant

The conflict is hardening around the takeover of the nickel production plant located in the south of New Caledonia, from which the current owner, the Brazilian group Vale, wants to separate. Since Monday, November 16, the collective “Usine du Sud = factory pays”, supported in particular by the Indigenous Customary Negotiating Body (ICAN), the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), the Labor Party and the Union Syndicale Kanak workers and exploited people, erected roadblocks on the main roads of Greater Noumea, causing major traffic difficulties. Some were lifted by the gendarmerie. The autonomous port of Nouméa is also blocked: only a few containers carrying essential goods are allowed to leave.

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Access to the factory and the mine is prohibited by stakes which have prevented the supply of ore since Thursday. Production is almost at a standstill. During a press conference held on Sunday in front of the Vale NC site, the collective announced an intensification of the mobilization in the coming days. “We won’t let go, indicate its spokespersons. We are determined because we are at home. The blockages will be lifted when the old people give us the green light to do so. “

State “neither shareholder nor buyer”

The collective and the ICAN are calling for the opening of negotiations around a “country” proposal, that carried by Sofinor, 85% owned by the North Province with a majority independence, and the Korean company Korea Zinc. They oppose the takeover offer presented by the Swiss group Trafigura, specializing in the trading of raw materials, which would combine Caledonian interests and private financing in an entity called “Prony Resources”, named after the nickel deposit in southern Caledonia. . Thursday, November 5, the CEO of the company, Antonin Beurrier, announced the entry into exclusive negotiations with Trafigura. The collective, which refuses any discussion with the leaders of Vale NC, intends to negotiate with the State and him alone.

In a letter sent Monday, November 16 to the president of the Djubéa-Kaponé customary council, John Tindao, and to the collective’s spokesperson, Raphaël Mapou, whose The world has taken note, the overseas ministry recalls that “The State is neither a shareholder nor a buyer of Vale NC”. “In this process, the State only intervenes under the commitments made to Parliament in 2016 to grant a loan to the company and to guarantee the loan from the latter for the purposes of carrying out the Lucy project. [un procédé innovant permettant de traiter et de stocker les résidus] », continues the ministry.

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