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Foreign workers from China, Korea, Thailand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 28, 2010) – New Caledonia’s Koniambo Nickel company says within weeks 200 Asian workers will arrive as large scale construction work on its smelter is getting underway.

The company’s president, Denis Lachance, has told Noumea’s daily newspaper that at a cost of nearly US$4 billion, the plant in the territory’s north will be the world’s biggest metallurgical construction site.

It will later this year employ 1,200 Chinese workers and 1,800 others from the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.

By year’s end 4,000 workers are to be on site, with up to 3,000 more to be employed for the project’s scheduled completion next year.

Four years ago, more than 2,000 Filipinos were flown in to build the Vale Inco nickel plant in the territory’s south amid widespread opposition to foreign workers being hired.

Permits to work on the project are issued for up to 18 months.

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