9 Mar 2016

New Caledonia gets new nickel plan

4:29 pm on 9 March 2016

The New Caledonian government has tabled a plan to support the nickel industry which is facing a sharp decline because of the drop in the price of nickel.

The president Philippe Germain has described the plan as a complete response to the current situation and being in line with the undertaking made in France last month when New Caledonian leaders met the prime minister, Manuel Valls.

Mr Germain says the context has changed and the government will now re-examine demands to export low-grade ore to China.

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Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

He says up to two millions tonnes a year could be considered for export.

In October, his government approved one application to ship 300,000 tonnes to China over 18 months.

The plan also provides for the shipment of 550,000 tonnes of nickel ore to a South Korean plant set up in partnership with New Caledonia's northern province.

The territory's three plants incurred huge losses last year, triggering concern about their viability.

Last month, Mr Valls said the state would guarantee that the SLN plant in Noumea could continue to operate.

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