5 Nov 2014

Call to shore up New Caledonia nickel production

4:50 pm on 5 November 2014

A leading figure in New Caledonia's nickel sector has warned against possible outside predators in the industry, which is the territory's economic backbone.

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Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Andre Dang, who has been instrumental in developing the nickel plant in the north, made the comment in an interview with the Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper after being appointed to run the board of the three provinces' joint industry company.

Mr Dang says there is a need to secure the territory's nickel resource, saying New Caledonia's stake in companies like Eramet is small.

Eramet is the parent company of SLN which runs the territory's oldest smelter in Noumea.

He says as a listed company, Eramet could be taken over with catastrophic results for the territory.

Mr Dang is also wary of the Chinese involvement with the local Mai group as their plans to build a smelter in Vanuatu could depress prices.

He says the nickel ore reserves are not unlimited and it's advisable to produce nickel for as long as possible at a price as high as possible.