New Caledonia Truck Blockade Temporary Lifted

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Trucker’s Union reps discuss issues with French High Commissioner

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 20, 2015) – Truck drivers who have mounted blockades as part of a protest around New Caledonia's capital have lifted roadblocks temporarily.

The drivers attached to the nickel mining contractor union, ContraKmine, established initial blockades two weeks ago but stepped up their protest this week after the President of New Caledonia's government Philippe Germain unilaterally broke off from negotiations.

This morning the blockades have been eased while representatives of the union meet with New Caledonia's government and the French High Commissioner to discuss central issues.

The drivers are upset about a decision by New Caledonia's committee for external mining trade not to approve of a number of applications to export low grade ore to China submitted by Societe Le Nickel and several small miners.

The truck drivers have crippled traffic flow in and around Noumea over the past couple of days.

The disruptions also triggered brief unrest in which a policeman was injured when a shot was fired directly at a vehicle in Mont Dore during attempts to put out a roadside fire.

The drivers have allowed access for certain people including passengers on international flights from Tontouta, but blockades are set to continue until the government restarts negotiations.

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