MAC: Mines and Communities

The Rhéébù Nùù Committee has issued a communiqué, to be de

Published by MAC on 2005-07-11

The Rhéébù Nùù Committee has issued a communiqué, to be delivered to the delegation from New Caledonia and Inco during meetings in Brisbane today. The substance of the communiqué is:

· The Syndex report on the nickel mine projects and the UNSOENC conference outcomes confirmed all concerns expressed by RN since 2002;

· Considering the lack of answers and the lack of transparent policies from the Goro Nickel company, the population’s concerns have become opposition to the project expressed as following :

· Our chieftains and the people are opposed to the marine effluent pipeline and ocean outfall;

· Our chieftains and the people are opposed to the destruction of our marine and terrestrial eco-systems;

· Our chieftains and the people are opposed to the accumulating of atmospheric pollution that go far beyond the acceptable standards;

· We strongly demand that our indigenous rights be taken into account and call for the establishment of a Heritage Fund under the chieftains’ scrutiny and for the future generations’ needs.

Several times we have called upon the Southern province and the Government to go by their duties, as they are “juges” with the power over environment and “parties as partners to the project and politically interested”.

In concluding we assert that the Goro Nickel project does not fulfil the conditions respecting the environment and even less the conditions for a sustainable development.

The construction of the Goro Nickel project must be suspended and there is need to stop the vast misinforming operation.

The communiqué is signed by Andre Vama, President, and Raphael Mapou Secretary general and former president.

The Rhéébù Nùù Committee is a Kanak organization established as a local monitoring body over Inco’s Goro nickel project to protect the fundamental freedoms and newly recognized rights of the indigenous Kanak people from violations as a result of this mine project.

While the Rhéébù Nùù Committee was established in 2001, its organizational roots go back to 1991 when the Kanak population of Yate protested the re-designation of the boundaries between their municipality and the French settlers-controlled-municipality of Mont-Dore. The Prony and the Port-Boisé areas, which are rich in nickel deposits were taken out of Yate’s jurisdiction and were added to Mont-Dore’s. Additionally, many of the leaders of the Rhéébù Nùù Committee were active in the Kanak struggles for independence of the 1980s and 1990s. While the Rhéébù Nùù Committee’s main mandate is local - monitoring and countering the impacts of Inco’s Goro Nickel mine on Kanak rights and authority - its struggle is recognized as being of critical significance to upholding Kanak rights throughout Kanaky, so that its current membership is around 4000 and includes Kanaks from all parts of Kanaky.

Raphael Mapou became the Rhéébù Nùù Committee’s first chairperson after he quit his position in the Government of New Caledonia. Mapou held the Indigenous Affairs portfolio and was one of a few Kanaks in the territorial government. Mapou quit in May of 2002, when the authorities of the Southern Province granted a second huge nickel concession to Inco - the Prony deposit next to the Goro concession - without any remuneration from Inco. This second concession increases Inco’s potential production from 54,000 tons of nickel at Goro to 180,000 tons of nickel per year. With its Goro and Prony concessions, Inco holds one of the largest nickel reserves in the world with the potential for one hundred years of exploitation.

Techa Beaumont
Mineral Policy Institute
P.O. Box 89
Erskineville 2043
Sydney Australia

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