Imagining a just future for New Caledonia: Green mining, climate justice, and the Kanak fight for independence

Journal of Australian Political Economy
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Australian Political Economy, 2022, 89, pp. 114-135
Issue Date:
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Can a just transition be achieved within the context of decolonisation in the south Oceania Island of New Caledonia, a suis generis overseas collectivity of the French Republic? Like its Pacific neighbours, New Caledonia is already feeling the catastrophic impact of climate change. Yet, its post-colonial future, like its past, is deeply linked to struggles over mining sovereignty. New Caledonia is the fourth largest producer of nickel in the world (US Geological Survey 2022), a mineral used historically to make stainless steel for the construction industry. However, with the sudden increase in demand for nickel for lithium-ion batteries in electric cars, New Caledonia is now at the forefront of the global energy transition. One of the country's three nickel refineries, Prony Resources, signed in 2021 its first multi-year agreement with Tesla to supply the electric car maker directly with nickel. As such, the island has been thrown deep into the contradictory global goal of achieving a low-carbon economy whilst extracting even larger quantities of energy transition minerals, with the potential to 'enlarge and intensify social and ecological injustice' (Bainton et al. 2021: 1).
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