This Month Marks the Deadline for France’s Rescue Negotiations for New Caledonia’s Nickel Industry

According to foreign media reports on March 21, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday that the negotiation deadline for the rescue agreement of New Caledonia’s nickel industry is set for the end of this month, excluding the possibility of offering better terms.

The French government has been negotiating to save New Caledonia’s nickel industry and has drafted an agreement on continuing support.

Le Maire stated, “I call for the nickel agreement to be signed by the end of March. There is no room for change.”

New Caledonia’s President Louis Mapou criticized the agreement as insufficient, but he still submitted it to parliament for a vote on March 28.

Under the proposed agreement, the French government will provide up to 200 million euros a year in subsidies for energy prices, alongside local government investment in power production, benefiting local nickel plants.

Le Maire mentioned that government assistance would help reduce production costs for local producers, facing competition from inexpensive supplies from Indonesia, enabling them to profit.

Le Maire stated that nickel enterprises would commit to supplying more products to Europe, which is trying to secure minerals like nickel for manufacturing electric vehicle batteries.

High costs, political tensions, and Indonesian supplies have led to weak international nickel prices, putting New Caledonia’s three nickel processing enterprises – SLN, KNS, and Prony Resources – on the brink of collapse.

Mining group Eramet, which holds a majority stake in SLN, has reached an agreement with the French government to erase SLN’s hundreds of millions of euros in debt from its balance sheet.

In January this year, the French government has been seeking to finalize an agreement with nickel enterprises and local governments to thoroughly reform the industry, but it has proven difficult to reach an agreement, partly due to ongoing constitutional reform negotiations.

France has offered loans to help nickel processing enterprises avoid collapse. However, Eramet refused to inject more funds into SLN, and KNS’s co-owner Glencore suspended production at the KNS processing plant last month while seeking buyers for its shares.

[Source – 上海有色网] 本月是法国对新喀里多尼亚镍产业救助谈判的最后期限

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