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Pollution fears over proposed nickle plant in Noumea

Published: 6:49PM Sunday May 05, 2013 Source: ONE News

New Caledonia is poised to become one of the world's worst polluters per capita with plans to build another coal plant to power nickel production.

The country already hosts one nickel treatment plant powered by coal, and plans to build another one in three years could see carbon emissions almost triple to 36.8 tonnes.

"It's unacceptable," Martine Comaille from Ensemble Pour La Planete said. "We are deeply against this coal power plant because New Caledonia will be a very big contributor to Co2."

Nickel is a key earner for New Caledonia, which holds 25% of the world's reserves, making it the third largest exporter.

Exports are worth over $1 billion a year to New Caledonia, making it a sensitive issues for officials.

Economic Minister Anthony Lecren said it was necessary "to protect and preserve here in the Pacific and the rest of the world".

But the new plant is predicted to make the country one of the biggest polluters in the world.

"If we look in terms of statistics for gas emissions they say we are even above China," Lecren said . "But we know in evidence that China is a big country for producing gas emission in quantity far beyond New Caledonia."

However some politicians and environmentalists have called on France not to grant any tax exemptions for the proposed coal plant.

"We have been writing to our president to ask him not to give any financial support to this project," Comaille said.

But hard cash and the lack of political will is expected to outweigh the real cost of pollution.