24 Jul 2017

Nickel's jitters worries New Caledonia's mining union

9:52 am on 24 July 2017
Three nickel mines hit by strike in New Caledonia.

Nickel is the bedrock of the New Caledonian economy, but plummeting global prices have shaken the territory. Photo: AFP PHOTO MARC LECHELARD

New Caledonia's main union in the mining sector is alarmed at the low price of nickel, fearing it could lead to the closure of a nickel plant with ensuing job losses.

The Soenc secretary-general Pierre Tuiteala says if one of the big plant closes, the territory's entire economy will suffer a blow with disastrous consequences.

The nickel price has halved over the past two years to about $US9000 a tonne and the territory's three main plants - the bedrocks of the economy - are subsequently running at a loss.

Last month, the head of the Brazilian conglomerate Vale said its New Caledonia operation was under review after reportedly accumulating $US1.3 billion in losses in the past three years.

SLN is losing almost one million US dollars a day.