UPDATE 2-Protesters burn vehicles, buildings at New Caledonia nickel mine

martes 27 de mayo de 2014 03:13 GYT

* Plant closed on May 8 after chemical spill

* Protests escalate after lack of response from local chiefs

* Vale says plant undamaged; vehicles, buildings burnt (Adds detail on nickel mining, nickel price)

By Cecile Lefort and Melanie Burton

SYDNEY, May 27 (Reuters) - Rioters torched vehicles, equipment and buildings at Vale's nickel mine in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia over the weekend, as anger boiled over about a chemical spill in a local river.

The $6 billion Vale plant at Goro in southern New Caledonia was closed earlier this month after some 100,000 litres of acid-tainted effluent leaked, killing about 1,000 fish and sparking renewed protests at the mine site.

The Vale plant has a production target of 60,000 tonnes of nickel at full capacity, compared with global supply of around 2 million tonnes. But it has been beset by problems in recent years, including several chemical spills and violent protests.

Tensions between the local population and Vale escalated over the weekend with young protesters frustrated at the latest spill by the Brazilian-based giant and a lack of response from indigenous Kanak chiefs, according to local media. Television footage showed images of burnt mining vehicles and equipment.

"There was damage at the site, but no damage to the plant. We had burned vehicles, one administration building was damaged, but no damage to the plant itself," Vale spokesman Cory McPhee told Reuters.   Continuación...