French President François Hollande inaugurated the $7 billion Koniambo nickel mine, a joint venture between Société Minière du Sud Pacifique (SMSP) and Swiss giant Glencore in New Caledonia this week; construction began in 2008.

Majority owner Glencore said Koniambo boasts “state-of-the-art infrastructure and proven technology, with a world-class ore body and transformative for industry;” New Caledonia is a French territory 750 miles east of Australia.

At peak, Koniambo will employ 950 local workers with indirect jobs for thousands, marking “a milestone” for the small island’s industry, said Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg. “We look forward to collaborations with community, government and partners, as we ramp up capacity,” he added.

To date, the project has generated 2,750 direct local jobs and 1,500 indirect positions, according to Glencore, including 150,000 hours of training. More than 80% of contracts were sourced locally, they added, while environmental impact assessments predated construction by 10 years.

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