New Caledonians Fear Inco Mining Project

Article excerpt

The Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) sponsored a visit to Canada by four residents of the South Pacific archipelago of New Caledonia -- two of them indigenous -- who are trying to get information from mining giant Inco Ltd. about the environmental effects of a nickel-cobalt project in their country.

"We have to have a future vision for our people -- how we can evolve with development. We have concern for our environment," said Georges Mandaoue, president of the Senat Coutumier, a group that represents native Kanaks, who make up about 45 per cent of New Caledonia's population of 211,000.

The New Caledonia team visited the Anglican Church of Canada's national office in Toronto in October to present their case to church members, including the primate's fund, which is covering $3,000-$4,000 of the tour's expenses. Also attending were representatives of the United Steelworkers of America, which is also sponsoring the tour.

Besides Mr. Mandaoue, the group included Regis Vendegou, secretary general of the Senat Coutumier, Jacques Mermoud, secretary general of Action Biosphere and Rick Anex, a member of Action Biosphere, an environmental group in New Caledonia. …