Policemen shot, wounded near New Caledonia nickel mine
By Cecile Lefort
SYDNEY May 28 (Reuters) - Two French police on the Pacific island of New Caledonia were shot and wounded on Wednesday by young Melanasians, angered by mining giant Vale's chemical spill in a river.
The two gendarmes suffered slight injuries after being hit by shotgun pellets fired by protesters blocking a highway near the Vale's $6 billion nickel mine, a spokeswoman for the nearby city of Mont Dore told Reuters.
Police had since restored order and were maintaining a large security presence in the area, she said.
Southern New Caledonia has been the centre of violence since Saturday when rioters torched vehicles and buildings near the controversial mine, causing more than $20 million worth of damage, according to Vale's estimates.
Protesters have been frustrated by the lack of response from indigenous Kanak chiefs to the chemical spill.
Vale representatives and local authorities were due to hold a meeting late Wednesday with the chiefs to discuss the situation, she said.
The local government suspended operations at the nickel processing plant in Goro three weeks ago after some 100,000 litres of acid-tainted effluent leaked, killing about 1,000 fish.
An independent report on the acid spill which was expected to be submitted to the southern province on Wednesday had prompted speculation the Vale plant could re-open soon. Continuación...