A first meeting has been held in New Caledonia between traditional leaders and a group of protesters blocking the Kouaoua mining site.

Kouaoua. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Gunnar Ries

The mine, which supplies nickel ore to the SLN smelter in Noumea, was closed last week after access was blocked for more than a week and installations were damaged.

Media reports said the talks in Kouaoua had a mediator and were attended by about about 100 mainly younger people, who object to felling more trees for more mining.

The traditional leaders had approved the plans by SLN for the expansion of the mine, which produces 600,000 tonnes of ore a year.

The shut-down of the mining centre has meant that for 81 employees temporary state support is being sought because SLN could not redeploy all affected staff.