Tiébaghi old mining village, in KoumacTiébaghi old mining village, in Koumac
©Tiébaghi old mining village, in Koumac|Oneye Production

The Tiébaghi Mine

in Koumac

When contemplating New Caledonia’s mining legacy, nickel undoubtedly takes the spotlight today. However, stepping back to the early 20th century unveils a significant chapter: the extraction of chromium from the Tiébaghi Massif, transforming the region into the world’s leading chromium producer. Situated about twenty kilometres from Koumac, the Tiébaghi Mine, once a bustling chromium hub, now stands as a testament to New Caledonia’s historical heritage. This “thunder mountain,” as colloquially named, has evolved into a life-sized museum, offering guided tours that unravel the mysteries of the ghost village and the operations of the world’s leading chrome mine in 1905. A journey through time, amid breathtaking scenery!

From Nouméa, it takes 4.5 hours on Route Territoriale n°1 to reach Koumac, the commune closest to the mine. The village of Tiébaghi is about twenty minutes away. As there are few buses to Koumac, we recommend you take a rental vehicle. However, if you don’t have a vehicle, you can find bus timetables on the RAÏ website, the inter-municipal transport network. Then, the only way to discover the mine site is to book a guided tour organised by the Association pour la Sauvegarde du Patrimoine Minier et Historique du Nord Calédonien.

  • Reservations for guided tours are compulsory, through the Koumac Information Point (42 78 42 or the guide on 52 00 75) or on the town hall website.
  • The price of the guided tour is 2,500 XPF/person, 1,250 XPF for 12-15 year olds. Free for children under 12.
  • The meeting point for guided tours is at the Koumac town hall parking lot.
  • Tours take place on Thursday and Saturday mornings, generally from 8am to 11am.
  • Special tours are organised during the Journées du Patrimoine or the Foire de Koumac.
  • There is no direct public transport route to the site, so everyone reaches the site with their own vehicle.
  • Credit card payments are not accepted. Be sure to bring cash.
Top 5 things to do on site

1. Dive into the history of the mine

The Tiébaghi mine, a treasure of mining history
The Tiébaghi mine, a treasure of mining history
The Tiébaghi mine, a treasure of mining history

Compelled to vacate the premises in 1964, the workers left everything behind: tools, machines and personal belongings. The former mining village, listed as part of New Caledonia’s historical heritage since 2001, has undergone extensive restoration and reconstruction work. Today, these historical artefacts find a new home within the renovated structures of the Tiébaghi village, offering visitors a glimpse into the bygone era.

2. Take a guided tour of the old village

As the mining operations expanded, a complete village emerged to support the mining activities. To transport yourself to the bygone era, join a guided tour of the restored village buildings, now resembling a ghost town frozen in time. Engage with the fascinating history of the village through informative panels and the guide’s insightful commentary as you explore the school, hospital, bakery, and chapel that once thrived in this mining community.

3. Share in conviviality with association members

Comprising ex-miners and their descendants, the associative organisation dedicated to the former mine site is devoted to preserving the structures and carrying forward its historical legacy. During the half-day guided tour, you not only get a vivid portrayal of the daily lives of the men and women who once resided and toiled in the area but also gain insights into local customs and traditions. This experience serves as an excellent avenue to delve into the intricate and culturally diverse richness of the region!

4. Enjoy a breathtaking view of the valley

The serpentine path leading to the Tiébaghi mine unfolds breathtaking mountain views, revealing the beautiful valleys below. The air is filled with an almost mystical calm, bestowing an enigmatic ambiance upon the surroundings and the broader region. As you approach the abandoned village of Tiébaghi, the sense of otherworldliness deepens. Once there, you gain a profound appreciation for the toil of the miners, who, armed with pickaxes, determination, and water, carved intricate galleries and extracted precious ores. The colossal 100-metre-deep extraction crater remains a visible testament to their titanic endeavours.

5. Explore the botanical trail

The Association for the Preservation of the Mining and Historical Heritage of Northern New Caledonia (ASPMHNC) has established a trail spanning over a kilometre, offering a fascinating glimpse of the 77 species of endemic plants gracing the massif. This unique terrain provides an ideal setting to comprehend the transformative role of iron oxides, which lend the soil its distinctive ochre-red hue, and witness how resilient plants thrive in this arid environment for a significant part of the year. Engaging guided tours are accessible throughout the year—check our online schedule for specific dates!