14 Jun 2018

Another fire attack at New Caledonia nickel mine

4:35 pm on 14 June 2018

There has been another fire at the Kouaoua mining site in New Caledonia, again believed to be an act of vandalism.

The SLN plant in Noumea.

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

The fire has once more damaged the belt system which feeds nickel ore to the coast for shipping to the SLN nickel smelter in Noumea.

It is the fourth such incident in a year, causing substantial material damage each time and interrupting operations for days while repairs are made.

Last month, the mayor of Kouaoua said he was exasperated by the attacks and feared that SLN might shut down the site, on which about 400 jobs depend.

In the past, he implored locals to break the code of silence and help catch those who keep setting fire to the 11 kilometre conveyor belt system.

SLN, which is New Caledonia's biggest private employer, has been running at a loss.

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