MAC: Mines and Communities

Inco closes Goro Nickel for a financial review - Kanak leaders call for opening negotiations

Published by MAC on 2003-03-15

Inco closes Goro Nickel for a financial review - Kanak leaders call for opening negotiations

19 March, 2003 - For Immediate Release -

Comité Rheebu Nuu Senat Coutumier Suivi du Projet Goro Nickel

(Ottawa) After 100 years of mining and industrial exploitation in New Caledonia, the situation of the Kanak indigenous people has not improved. On the contrary, our living conditions have worsened in all areas where there is mining exploitation, past or present. No matter what the price of nickel may be (from US$ 2.30 to US$ 8.00/pound), the Kanak people never share in the benefits. What we are left with after mining is pollution of our land, of our bays, of our lagoon, of our coral reefs. The directly affected communities' concerns are never taken into account. For 100 years we have been told the same message: "you will get roads and employment."

After the launch of the Goro Nickel project, at the end of 2001, we noticed that INCO avoided legitimate concerns of Kanak communities by simply claiming to comply with the country's laws.

Raphael Mapou, Chairman of the Rheebu Nuu Committee, says, "The Kanak tribes living within the boundaries of the towns of Yate and Mont-Dore where the INCO project takes place, did not remain inactive and have pressured the company to take into account the Kanak cultural identity. Therefore, a big Kanak totem, representing the spirit of the ancestors and the totems of all chieftainships was erected last July on the Goro nickel mine site."

After 10 days of meetings and exchanges in Canada, our delegation has found that some Canadian aboriginal peoples and some mining companies we met during our visit have succeed in defining a framework for negotiations that takes into account the claims and interests of the indigenous peoples of Canada.

According to Georges Manadaoue, Senator, member of the Customary Senate, "From our point of view, these negotiations between mining companies and native peoples in Canada are encouraging for all Indigenous Peoples who suffer under the relentless spread of globalisation, exploitation and profit making by multinational corporations. We do not understand why INCO adopts in New Caledonia a colonial attitude, denying the rights and interests of the Kanak people, although these rights and interests have been enshrined in the Noumea Accord".

Raphael Mapou adds, "The similarities between our situation and those of Canadian indigenous people's, which INCO knows well, should have led INCO to seek a better relationship with us than has been the case. We have discovered that:

According to experts, the nickel commodity price on the world market should remain much higher than 4US$/pound during the next 3 years; Yet indications given us by INCO's management show that the resuming of the Goro Nickel plant construction is not foreseen in the near future.

We denounce INCO's attitude. After INCO, obtained from Government authorities an exceptional tax reduction regime and the granting for free of the neighbouring Prony nickel deposit, INCO decided purely and simply to stop the GORO plant construction without any consideration for the workers, the contractors and the people of New-Caledonia."

Rock Wamytan, High Chief of the St Louis tribe and Minister for Customary Affairs in the Government of New Caledonia, shares this view, "We call upon INCO management to engage resolutely and clearly into negotiations with the Rheebu Nuu Committee and with the Customary Senate, in the spirit of what has been done in Canada. The objectives we want to reach together with INCO must allow and guarantee a sustainable development and succeed in a real benefit sharing between INCO and New-Caledonia. This represents the realisation of the spirit and the letter of the Noumea Accord that the Canadian mining company cannot over turn."

Adds Raphael Mapou, "Without such cooperation, there will no further development in GORO or in PRONY."

Comité RHEEBU NUU SENAT COUTUMIER Suivi du Projet Goro Nickel
68 Av. James Cook,
Nouville Mairie de Yaté
98845 Nouméa Cédex

98834 Yaté,
Nouvelle Calédonie

Home | About Us | Companies | Countries | Minerals | Contact Us
© Mines and Communities 2013. Web site by Zippy Info