NEW CALEDONIA NICKEL PRODUCTION DISRUPTED

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BY SEPARATISTS

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (October 27, 1997 - Radio Australia)---Production at state-owned nickel mines in the French Pacific Territory of New Caledonia has again been disrupted by separatist protest action.

The pro-independence activists, who have blocked access to the mines, are campaigning for the construction of a second nickel refinery. They want the plant built in the Northern Province, an area controlled by the separatist Kanak Socialist Liberation Front (FLNKS).

The FLNKS accuses the mine authorities --which have opposed building a second refinery-- of wanting to maintain a state-owned nickel refinery monopoly.

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