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Mining Activity in New Caledonia

Societal and environmental impacts

Chemins d’impacts

Éditeur : IRD Éditions

Lieu d’édition : Marseille

Publication sur OpenEdition Books : 9 février 2024

Collection : Chemins d’impacts

Année d’édition : 2023

Nombre de pages : 60


In 1999, under the terms of the Nouméa and Bercy (1998), and Matignon-Oudinot (1988) Accords, the Ministers for Research and Overseas France asked IRD to assess the conditions for the creation of a centre for research on nickel prospection and mining in New Caledonia, and also to evaluate the environmental and societal impacts of these mining activities.

Following this feasibility study, the ministers approved the report and then asked IRD to conduct a comprehensive study to prepare for the creation of this centre. At the same time, a multidisciplinary geoscience research team was assigned to New Caledonia. As well as working on the different reports (scientific, status, and budget) in conjunction with all the public and private stakeholders, the idea was also to develop this future induction research unit on the basis of research projects jointly developed with the local or external stakeholders involved.

The research developed would lay the foundations for numerous findings in geophysics, geomorphology, geochemistry and hydrology with a specific and detailed focus on nickeliferous regolith and its functioning, in nickel ore mineralogy, in plant biology for the restoration of land impacted by mining, and in health following the discoveries concerning asbestos in ultrabasic nickel-bearing rocks.

This “catalytic” effect of the research carried out soon led to the formation of consortia that won numerous calls for tenders, established an essential climate of trust between public and private partners based on the specific competencies of each operator, and triggered the exponential development of local expertise, while establishing New Caledonia as an attractive destination for this field of research. The research conducted thus produced key knowledge for mining activity and land revegetation, and concerning impacts on the lagoon.


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