The Pilou copper mine, which is in the municipality of Poum, in the extreme north-west of Grande Terre, was worked from 1884 to 1931. Having now been lain unmaintained for over 85 years, the impressive remains of the old mine can only be visited with a guide.
Registered on October 22, 1884 by Louis Equoy, the mine was practically immediately bought for 50,000 francs by John Higginson. After several more sales and takeovers, it was finally four predominantly-English companies that would mine the site from 1886 to 1930: the Société des Mines du Nord de la Nouvelle-Calédonie (the Mining Company of Northern New Caledonia), the International Mining Corporation Ltd, the Société Calédonienne des Mines (the Caledonian Mining Company) and the Société des Mines du Diahot (the Le Diahot Mining Company).
These firms mostly used convict labor. At one time in its history, the Pilou mine would be the only one in the territory to be entirely operated by convicts.
The mine was initially worked open face until 1885, when it was redeveloped after the discovery of a seam of copper of good quality by Louis Pelatan, a mining engineer. Thus the open face mining gave way to underground working through a steam-driven core-drilling system that allowed digging down to 212 meters below sea level.
The fall in copper prices finally lead to the permanent closure of the mine in 1931. Nowadays, one can still see the remains of chimneys, a vat, walls, ...