New Caledonia nickel plant loan term rejected

1:47 pm on 8 June 2016

The New Caledonian provinces' industrial umbrella group, STCPI, is reluctant to take up a loan to restructure the territory's SLN nickel plant.

The French state has offered to lend a total of $US240 million as part of a promise to guarantee SLN's continued operation as the plant is running at a huge loss because of the slump in commodities.

STCPI has agreed to borrow $US144 million for the restructure which is expected to cut SLN's production costs by a quarter, by the end of next year.

However, STCPI head Andre Dang said the lending terms for its stake in the rescue package were unacceptable.

He said with an interest rate of five percent, over eight years this would force STCPI to pay another $US240 million.

This could be even higher because the loan would be indexed to the nickel price at the London Metal Exchange, Mr Dang said.

SLN is the territory's main private sector employer.