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New Caledonia Nickel Mine 50 years later
Nouvelle Calédonie

In the 1950's the western shores of the Baie du Prony in New Caledonia was strip mined for nickel and iron. The last ore ship sailed out in September of 1968 and the land was left to regenerate. As you can see by looking at the other sphere images we have taken near this location, wilderness has returned to much of the land near the mines over the past 42 years, but the areas that were actively mined remain as you see in this image - very much like a Martian landscape. Back in 1984 I wrote about this recovery as "a fold in time" when people briefly left the area alone. The fold is now closing and there is a new, truly enormous strip mining operation and nickel processing plant closing the fold in time on the Baie de Prony. We call it Mordor and it has already launched an attack on Middle Earth. The area around the anchorage in the northern part of Baie du Prony, including the watersheds of the 5 small rivers that enter the Baie de Carenage, is still gloriously free of human habitation and disturbance. It retains the sense of wilderness and beauty described in 1984, but the land has already been leased for strip mining so the memory bubbles on 360Cities.net and Google Earth will one day soon be all that remains of this natural beauty.

When I took this sphere image I called it "The Cauldron", thinking of a mind experiment described in the Fold in Time. It was about 40 degrees C with the heat of the sun amplified by land that looked and felt like burning coal. The ore content is, strangely enough, just the right proportion of iron and nickel to make stainless steel. So what you see here are the glowing embers of a fire that yielded thousands upon thousands of stainless steel pots, pans, utensils, and other items necessary for our modern existence. I'm a fan of stainless steel and happy to have it for lots of essentials. Like you, I'm techno-dependent. And I realize we can't have our technology without removing the ore from the Earth. I also know we can't do that without causing long-lasting damage to the creatures that live over that ore. Nobody lives around the Baie du Prony because the land is so rich in heavy metals - like chrome - that the soil does not support our agricultural plants and the water is not safe to drink for long periods of time. So there isn't much that stands in the way of the gigantic mining machines. The mining company swears up and down that it's going to be very careful and environmentally safe as it levels the mountains.

If you want to come to New Caledonia and see it now - before the mining comes this way - download a copy of the Guide to New Caledonia and book your reservations. Or if you have a yacht, download a copy of the Cruising Guide to New Caledonia and come enjoy this strange and beautiful wilderness while it lasts.

Copyright: Richard Chesher
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 12044x6022
Taken: 15/12/2009
Chargée: 06/11/2010
Mis à jour: 07/03/2015
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Tags: new caledonia mining; new caledonia nickel; nickel mine new caledonia; strip mining; environmental impact stip mining
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More About Nouvelle Calédonie

Une Nation du Pacifique Sud, la plus proche de l'Australie et de la Nouvelle Zélande. Une chaîne de hautes montagnes, d'impressionnantes cascades et de nombreuses rivières avec une flore et une faune variée et souvent unique au monde - C'est le paradis de la randonnée pédestre ou équestre ainsi que de l'excursion en véhicule tout-terrain.Le plus grand lagon du monde, peuplé d'une faune tropicale endémique particulièrement riche, avec des récifs et des populations de poissons rares et protégées. Des centaines d'épaves sous-marines, des îlots, de nombreuses plages de sable blanc. La population calédonienne est issue d'un large brassage culturel : Mélanésiens, Européens, Polynésiens, Vietnamiens, Chinois, Japonais, et la langue et culture française. La Nouvelle-Calédonie est dotée de très bonnes infrastructures médicales et sociales. Une infrastructure touristique qui offre un large éventail de types d'hébergement allant de l'hôtel 5 étoiles au camping aménagé en passant par l'accueil en milieu tribal, les chambres d'hôtes, les refuges et l'auberge de jeunesse.