In 2010, we started planning for the end of the construction phase at the Koniambo nickel project in New Caledonia. This included a strategy to mitigate the social impact of this demobilisation, such as recognising the need to redeploy individuals and companies.

This construction phase, referred to as the Koniambo Project, was a joint venture with Hatch Technip. At its peak, it employed 2,250 local people, of whom around 80% were from the North Province of New Caledonia, where the asset is situated. Of these local employees, 1,700 were on non-ongoing contracts that ended when the construction phase was completed. These employees tended to be young (65% under 40), female and without formal qualifications.

Working in partnership with local government representatives, the demobilisation team developed a programme to assist those whose contracts had ended. The programme was called REACTION, and was based on two key pillars:

  • Information and advice: providing support, including job counselling, for employees scheduled for demobilisation
  • Business support service: supporting suppliers to better position themselves in new sectors

During REACTION’s three years, we held meetings with around 80 companies and over 2,000 employees. 824 people received individual coaching and assistance.

REACTION’s employee information and advice service established a number of initiatives to mitigate the impact of demobilisation including:

  • The MICROPROJECT information meeting: this provided support for demobilised employees to establish their own businesses
  • Job-seeking, CV, and interview preparation workshops, to help develop job hunting skills
  • Skills development schemes: one offered 43 demobilised workers the chance to train for their basic driving licence (a requirement for many New Caledonian jobs); it proved such a success that there was a waiting list for participation

As a result of the steps taken by the team at Koniambo, there was no negative industrial action during the demobilisation phase, which took place over a four-year period.