Last week‘s closure of New Caledonia‘s mining centre in Kouaoua has led to 81 employees losing their jobs and seeking temporary state support.

The SLN plant in Noumea. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

About 400 people have been affected by the mining company SLN‘s decision to halt operations which followed an arson attack and a blockade by a group of locals opposed to a mining expansion.

Most of the staff have been redeployed but in the case of 81 employees an application has been lodged with the labour directorate to maintain their pay.

A ruling is expected within two weeks.

Media reports said talks had been scheduled between traditional landowners who backed the mining expansion and a group of about 50 people whose blockade was aimed at preventing the felling of more endemic oak trees.