A French government official has assured New Caledonians that economic patriotism will prevail in dealings concerning the state-owned Eramet mining and nickel concern.
The statement by Christian Estrosi in Noumea comes as unions have approached the two French presidential candidates to speak out about Eramet's future.
Eramet has more than 2,000 of its 14,000 employees in New Caledonia where it operates the territory's only nickel smelter.
There is unease over the dumping of Eramet's CEO, Jacques Bacardats, who has been replaced by a member of the board of the Areva nuclear power group.
Areva is a key shareholder of Eramet and has been in talks with Brazil's CVRD which plans to build a multi-billion US dollar nickel plant at Goro in New Caledonia's south.