US$ 1.3 BILLION NEW CALEDONIA NICKEL PLANT DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION DEAL SIGNED

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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (April 29, 2002 - Oceania Flash)---The project chairman for the new Goro nickel plant, Pierre Alla, signed a US$ 1.3 billion agreement with Brisbane, Australia’s architectural firm of Bechtel, Technip and Hatch (BTH) Thursday, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The contract is for engineering design and construction of the new facility in the southern part of New Caledonia's main island.

The project is a joint venture with Canada’s nickel mining giant Inco.

Another nickel mining project is currently under way in northern New Caledonia. It, too, is a joint venture with a Canadian company, Falconbridge.

The Goro project, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2004, will become the largest nickel mining plant in the world, with a yearly production capacity of 54,000 tons of nickel and 5,400 tons of cobalt.

Last week's contract has been labeled by local media as "the biggest ever signed in New Caledonia."

Meantime, the existing nickel company in New Caledonia, Société Le Nickel (SLN, a subsidiary of French giant Eramet) plans to boost its yearly nickel capacity to 70,000 tons.

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