NEW CALEDONIA MINING COMPANY HOPES TO BOOST OUTPUT

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SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, April 17) - French mining group
Eramet, which is one of the major players in New Caledonia's nickel mining
industry, is currently in the French territory for talks with top officials, the
daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

Jacques Bacardats, who replaced Yves Rambaud last month at the
head of Eramet's Board, has held meetings with New Caledonia's President Pierre
Frogier, Southern province President Jacques Lafleur and French High
Commissioner Daniel Constantin.

High on the agenda is a plan by Eramet's New Caledonia
subsidiary, SLN (Société Le Nickel) to boost its yearly nickel production from
the current 57,000 tons per year to 75,000 tons.

This would be achieved with the scheduled opening of a new
mining site in Tiébaghi, north of New Caledonia's main island.

In New Caledonia, two other major nickel projects are scheduled
to be built in the main island's northern and southern parts: the Goro-Nickel
project driven by Inco in the south of the main island, was "paused"
in November, due to unexpected capital costs.

The other project is in Koniambo, still at the financial
planning stage, by Falconbridge in the north, in partnership with SMSP,
Société Minière du Sud Pacifique, the northern Province's financial arm.

The Koniambo project could, by 2007, produce some 60,000 tons of
nickel per year.

The total, a combination of new and upgraded projects, is
expected to bring New Caledonia's nickel production capacity to a yearly 200,000
tons by 2005.

Meanwhile, speaking in Toronto, Canada, this week before Inco's
Annual Meeting of Shareholders, Inco President and Chief Operating Officer Peter
Jones briefed the company's shareholders on recent developments on the New
Caledonian scene.

Jones and Inco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott Hand
were in New Caledonia earlier this month.

Jones referred to a recent "pause" in the US$1.4
billion Goro-Nickel project, saying the move was motivated by "unacceptable
cost estimates at Goro last year."

"Faced with unacceptable cost estimates at Goro last year,
we took the bull by the horns and announced a full review to get the project
back on a solid financial footing."

Jones also announced that work on Goro was likely to be delayed
"until at least the end of 2005 or early 2006, depending on the changes
that may result of this review."

"The good news is that our review is uncovering real
opportunities to reduce the capital cost at Goro," he added.

"Scott and I were in New Caledonia two weeks ago and met
with representatives from the government, the community, and the unions. While
we were there, we announced that Inco is prepared to undertake some limited but
essential work at the site during the suspension period," Jones told Inco's
shareholders.

"The goal is to establish labour and contractual ground
rules aimed at preventing any costly work interruptions, such as we saw
previously, when construction resumes. 

This program would begin over the next few months."

"At the same time, we announced that we will begin a
consultation process with our neighbouring municipalities in Goro.  We hope
this will lead to a "Good Neighbors" memorandum of understanding
regarding employment and training opportunities for local people," the
President revealed.

"I can tell you that, from the meetings and discussions
that Scott and I have had, we have the support of the Governments of New
Caledonia and France, the local communities, the unions and the local business
community. They want the Goro project to succeed and they will be working with
us to make it happen," he assured, adding Inco was "committed to
proceeding.

"But as we have said before -- we will only do so in a way
that benefits the company, its shareholders, and the people of New
Caledonia."

April 18, 2003

Oceania Flash: E-mail/Courriel:
padec@iname.com 

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