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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (Oceania Flash, June 23) - A series of public meetings and consultations has opened this week in order to gauge public opinion of the proposed Goro-nickel project, in the South of New Caledonia's main island.

Goro-nickel, a US$1.8 billion project 85 percent owned by Canadian giant Inco, has been paused late 2002, due to unforeseen costs that blew the initial budget, but also protests and industrial actions from Goro's Kanak communities.

Some of the concerns expressed touched on the environmental impact of the project, especially the management of the waste from nickel ore extraction.

The process used by Inco uses a new chemical technology.

The public meetings, which are to take place both in the capital Nouméa and in the Goro region, are scheduled to be held until mid-July.

A first similar public consultation had taken place two years ago, but New Caledonia's new administration in the Southern province has deemed it fit to launch a second one.

Goro is cooperating in the public scrutiny and is reported to have placed key documents in public consultation, in several town halls and in the Southern Province.

Inco recently indicated that the current "review" of the whole project would be completed shortly and that a decision to resume construction work could be made by October this year.

The project could then be operational by 2007.

June 23, 2004

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