10 May 2016

Eramet agrees to support New Caledonia's SLN

12:18 pm on 10 May 2016

The French mining conglomerate Eramet has approved a plan aimed at saving New Caledonia's SLN nickel smelter in which it is a majority shareholder.

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SLN, New Caledonia's largest employer, is hemorrhaging more than half a million dollars a day because of the falling price of nickel. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Eramet has issued a statement, saying it will make available US$45 million to support SLN until the end of June when a restructuring plan is expected to be finalised.

SLN, which is the territory's main private sector employer, is losing more than half a million dollars a day because of the fall in the price of nickel.

The announcement in Paris follows a decision by the New Caledonian provinces' industrial umbrella group, STCPI, to take up part of the US$240 million loan offered by the French state, which promised to guarantee SLN's continued operation.

Reports say STCPI has agreed to borrow US$144 million for the restructure which is expected to cut SLN's production costs by a quarter by the end of next year.

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