The Korean candidate for the takeover of Vale’s factory withdrew from the race. But violence keeps growing in New Caledonia.

We announced yesterday that Korea Zinc had decided to withdraw from the race to buy the nickel ore processing plant in southern Caledonia. One could then think that this would stop the demonstrations and blockades that have been hampering New Caledonia for the past fortnight. This is not the case. Opponents still refuse to allow the factory, which belongs to the Brazilian Vale, to be sold to the oil trader, the Swiss Trafigura. They also believe that the interests of the Caledonians will not be sufficiently represented.

Trafigura not an industrialist
They also doubt Trafigura’s ability to manage the environmental aspect of the plant since the Swiss are not industrialists. The opponents continue the fight. The customary people of the South have been joined in this conflict by the pro-independence coalition which brings together the vast majority of the pro-independence fighters (FLNKS). They are reinforced in their willingness to refuse Trafigura’s offer by a new coup de théâtre.

A name kept secret
This morning we learned that the local partner of Korea Zinc (La Sofinor) had a plan B. André Dang indeed said he could find another industrialist capable of meeting the challenges of this factory which is losing 200 million US dollars a year. The identity of the possible buyer was not revealed.

In the meantime, the opponents of Trafigura remain very firm. They have announced that they would prefer the factory to be closed rather than have it run by Trafigura. Every day new blockades of roads or institutions are organised by the demonstrators. The boss of Vale Caledonia, Antonin Beurrier, is currently in Switzerland at Trafigura’s headquarters. If the sale of the southern factory to Trafigura were to be officially announced, it would be a kind of declaration of war.